SIR THOMAS WYATTfS CRITICAL REPUTATION
Richard Tottel, in his collection of Songes and Sonettes (1557) gave pride of
Wyatt has also, together with Surrey, suffered from
has been judged against aims he almost certainly did not set himself;
and he has been scarified for failing to comply with a standard (iambic
pentameter) that became the accepted norm only after his death. Moreover, there really is no reason to
judge English poetry against this one standard. Many critics over the centuries have
wished to read the smoothness and musicality of Italian verse into English; and
no form is more susceptible to attack from these critics than the sonnet. There was a native lyrical tradition of
smooth verse in Wyattfs time, but there was also another tradition, that of the
discursive poetry of the 15th century, which had developed from the
alliterative line and possessed no regular flowing rhythm. In a fairly recent work,
H.A. Mason made many conjectural eimprovementsf to Wyattfs rhythm and
rhymes. Such an imposition may be
seen as an episode in the afterlife of a text; it does, however, imply an
overly reductive view of what is metrically permissible in poetry. A further hindrance is the belief that
the Italians perfected the forms they invented;
there is the sense of always struggling in the wake of Petrarca and Dante. It is true that the Italian sonnet had
already attained a fairly high level of sophistication by Petrarcafs time,
whereas Wyatt was importing a new form; this consideration makes his achievement
all the more remarkable. Finally,
his fame has often rested on his introduction of the sonnet to
This short document concludes with a note on the provisional nature of translation criticism. The problem of authorality confronts the critic of this period, for the poems of Wyatt, Surrey and their contemporaries were circulated in manuscript and regarded as greusable texts, belonging to a shared cultureh and thus inviting revision, excerpting, or supplementation. It is especially evident in Wyattfs sonnet eLike to these vnmesurable montaynsf (XXXIII). In the 19th century, this was believed to be a translation of the French sonnet eVoyant ces montsf of Mellin de Saint-Gelais [1487-1558]; critical comment consequently focused on its originality in its departures from the French. Then it was discovered that the Italian eSimile a questi smisurati montif (in Sannazarofs works, but probably not by him) was the common source, and Wyattfs eoriginalityf is actually a closer adherence to the Italian than is displayed by the French translation. The edeparturesf remain, for the English and the French translators have chosen to treat the Italian text in different ways, and they are sufficiently interesting in themselves to repay study. There is really nothing to gain, and much to lose, by regarding them in the uncertain light of eoriginalityf or to talk of einfluencef.
 The title of his eMiscellanyf (so called since 1870) runs: Songes and Sonettes, written by the ryght
honorable Lorde Henry Haward late Earle of Surrey, and other – even though
the first edition contained 41 poems attributed to
 Kenneth Muir, Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1963), p. 220.
 For an example of Tottelfs highly unsympathetic and devaluative
alterations, see Michael R.G. Spiller (The Development of the
Sonnet: An Introduction.
 One poem attributed to Wyatt in the first edition of 5 June 1557
was moved to the eUncertain Authorsf section in the next edition of 31 July
1557 (R.A. Rebholz, Sir Thomas Wyatt, The
 eBehold, Lovef; eWhat vaileth truthf; and eGo, burning sighsf (Rebholz, 1978, pp. 337-9) which was originally a sonnet.
 Muir (1963), p. 221. A
typical example of the total misunderstanding of Wyattfs sonnets can be found
in Lewis Einstein, The Italian
Renaissance in England (New York: Columbia University Press, 1903), pp.
326-328. Robert Bell, Poetical
Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (London: J.W. Parker and Son, 1854)
 G.S. Fraser, in A Short
History of English Poetry (Bath: Open Books, 1981) likens the metrical
freedom of Wyattfs sonnets to the works of T.S. Eliot and Pound (p. 89). In like vein, Lever (1974) compares him
to early 20th century imagists reacting against Georgian styles and
 Such has been the case ever since Puttenhamfs Arte of English Poesie (1589).
An interesting parallel to Wyatt and Surrey is provided by Juan Boscan
and Garcilaso de la Vega; the successful re-entry of the sonnet into
 Lisle Cecil John (The
Elizabethan sonnet Sequences. Studies in Conventional Conceits 1938;
Reissued New York, Russell and Inc., 1964), claims that linking Wyatt and
Surrey is unfair to both poets, especially to the former (p. 7); Emrys Jones (1964)
states, gthe traditional pairing of
 One effect of
 Joost Daalder (ed.), Sir Thomas Wyatt, Collected Poems (London: Oxford University Press, 1975), p. xii.
 E.K. Chambers, Sir Thomas Wyatt and Some Collected Studies (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1933), pp. 122-3. Chambers considers Wyattfs close translations to be gexotic writingh (p. 122); and as further proof of his Englishness, he remarks that gcthe study of English is still suffering from the past domination of continental professorsh who were gsomewhat deaf to the finer felicities of an alien speechh (p. 123).
 Maurice Evans (ed), Elizabethan
Sonnets (London: J.M. Dent, 1994):
 A.K. Foxwell, reading back from the late Elizabethan to Henrician
times, believed that Wyatt possessed a vague awareness of the possibilities of the
five-foot line: gche wanted to make of rhyme what Shakespeare finally achieved
in blank verse, but he did not grasp the fact that verse bounded by rhyme
cannot be allowed the freedom which blank verse may possessh (A Study of Sir Thomas Wyattfs Poems, 1911.
 But also because of the nature of the sonnet sequence itself. The readers of a sonnet-sequence
expected the author to have experienced, and perhaps suffered; whether he
actually had or not, he had to make his readership believe. Anne Ferry, The eInwardf Language. Sonnets of Wyatt,
 The very names ePetrarchan Sonnetf and eShakespearean Sonnetf are value judgements; they did not invent these forms, and the eSpenserianf form was first used by the Castalian poets at James VIfs court.
 A more modern view of the eselff is the major theme of Spiller (1992), who treats of the self created by a text, the /I/, that lies between writer and reader.
 In the case of Shakespearefs sonnets, the readerfs biographical reaction is a natural response to the dramatic immediacy of these texts. –G.K.Hunter, eThe Dramatic Technique of Shakespearefs Sonnetsf in Jones (1977), 120-133 (121; 130). This also applies to Astrophel and Stella; not, however, to the Canzoniere.
 There is a certain irony about the statement Burton Fishman made in
eRecent Studies in Wyatt and
 J.W. Lever, The Elizabethan Love Sonnet (London: Methuen, 1956, reprinted 1974), p. 3.
 Lexical and syntactical ambiguity is a feature of Wyattfs sonnets, both translated and original. Ferry (1983), p. 100.
 Muir (1963), pp. 259-260.
He states that more people take pleasure from Wyattfs lyrics than from
his translations of Petrarca and the Psalms. A similar opinion is expressed by John
and Poetry in the Early Tudor Court.
 D.G. Rees, in eSir Thomas Wyattfs Translations from Petrarchf in Comparative Literature 7 (1955), pp. 15-24, considers most of Wyattfs translations from Petrarca to be ga largely unsuccessful attempt to reproduce their adroitness in Englishh (p. 24).
 Throughout the history of the sonnet, the line has been the unit of composition. Should each line not be judged on its own merit, not against an artificially imposed ideal, but against its content and relation to the other lines? Irregular lines may throw their regular counterparts (or counterpoints) into relief (as mentioned by Muir, 1963, p. 226).
 The Italian critic Sergio Baldi argued for an Italian versification
in Wyattfs lines; once the principles of elision, synaloepha and syncope are
applied to his work, the irregularities disappear. –La Poesia di Sir Thomas Wyatt (1953) – summary taken from Burton
Fishman, eRecent Studies in Wyatt and
 Daalder (1975), pp. xi-xii.
 Editing Wyatt (Cambridge: The Cambridge Quarterly, 1972), pp. 86-92.
 An old view: expressed, for example, by Charles Tomlinson in The Sonnet: Its Origin, Structure, and Place
in Poetry (
 Hence Foxwell (1964) regards him as a pioneer rather than a poet, and a builder, not a beautifier (p. 121). Also Lever (1974) regards Wyattfs close translations as his earliest ones; subsequent deviations increased as his self-assurance grew (p. 24). This is typical of the frequent, and paradoxical, view that a literary tradition may develop over time but the texts that constitute this tradition are not allowed to develop, or to be developed, through translation.
 And every manuscript copy of a text is an original; an exact copy is impossible (Manfred Görlach, The Linguistic History of English. 1974, 1994; English translation: London: Macmillan, 1997, p. 5).
 Elizabeth Heale, Wyatt,
 Mentioned in Foxwell (1964), p. 60.