"My Lute Awake" is a poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt, an English writer and ambassador to France and Italy for King Henry VIII. Wyatt is credited with bringing the sonnet and other forms of poetry back to England and adapting them to the English language. Wyatt was also suspected of being Anne Boleyn's lover and spent a month in the Tower of London before Boleyn was executed for adultery, but was released and eventually restored as an ambassador.
The first two of eight stanzas deal with Wyatt preparing to sing, one last time, to an unrequited lover. Wyatt explains to his lute that if this last song does not win the affection of the lady they will not perform for her anymore.
Describing the lover
The first middle stanzas focus on describing Wyatt's lover. The lover is never given a physical description, but is described through metaphor. The third stanza beings with Wyatt comparing his lover's rejections to a rocky shore's rejection of the ocean's waves. The fourth stanza describes the lover as an unkind winner of hearts. The stanza references Cupid, as Love, as her helper in collecting other lovers.
The men's revenge
The next stanzas describe how Fate and Time will get their revenge on the lover for her treatment of all the men she made fall in love with her. The fifth stanza warns the lover that what she does to her lovers now can be done to her later in life, and that other people are just as cruel as she is. In the sixth Wyatt explains that she will be alone when she is "withered and old" on cold winter nights, and will have no one but the moon to comfort her. The seventh stanza continues the thought by saying that only then will she repent her actions toward her old lovers, because she will then know that beauty and good looks do not last forever.
Wyatt finishes the song and stops playing the lute in the final stanza. He calls the song a waste, but one he had to see through to completion. He also reiterates the promise of not playing the lute for the lover again.
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