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Translation of Petrarch's Rima, Sonnet 134

I FIND no peace, and all my war is done;
I fear and hope; I burn and freeze like ice;
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I seize on;
That looseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison
And holdeth me not, yet can I 'scape nowise;
Nor letteth me live nor die at my device,
And yet of death it giveth none occasion.
Withouten eyen, I see; and without tongue I plain;
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health;
I love another, and thus I hate myself;
I feed me in sorrow, and laugh in all my pain;
Likewise displeaseth me both death and life;
And my delight is causer of this strife.

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

Sir Thomas Wyatt was an English poet and diplomat of some controversy for Henry VIII . His favor with the king was intermittent as there was some evidence that he was having an affair with the lovely Anne Boleyn before her marriage to the king. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London only to be released by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V knighted in 1537, but quickly re imprisoned for controversies surrounding his duties as ambassador. He remained unpublished until after his death and finally pardoned at the rumored request of Catherine Howard. He died in 1542 in Sherborne, Dorset.

Nelson Miller at The Poet's Corner explains Wyatt's Translation of Petrarch's Rima, Sonnet 134 that is typically individualistic dealing candidly in everyday speech with the trials of romantic love:

Francesco di Petracco (July 20, 1304 to July 18, 1374), better known as Petrarch. He was a scholar and philosopher as well as a poet, but it is through the 366 poems of his Rima, mostly in the Italian sonnet form, that he was both best known and most influential. His somewhat idealized love for the Laura of these poems set the pattern for lyric love poetry for the next 300 years.

Petrarch's idea of a sequence of sonnets relating the love of a man for an idealized but unattainable mistress flourished throughout Europe well into the 17th century. Petrarch's use of language, the "Petrarchan conceit," (comparisons between the mistress and elements from nature, e. g., "eyes like the sun," "brow like lilies," "cheeks like roses," "lips like cherries," "skin like snow") became the basic language of description of the beloved. Further, Petrarch was really the first to explore the emotional states of love; in (this) poem, he uses paradox ("I freeze and I burn") and oxymoron ("love's icy fire") to embody the complex and contradictory states of mingled joy and despair experienced by those in love.

(This) poem is a translation by Sir Thomas Wyatt of one of Petrarch's Sonnet 133, from the Rima, one of his finest poems exploring this powerful and complex emotional state.

Wyatt translated ten of Petrarch's sonnets, his first group of sonnets in English were modeled chiefly after Petrarch. He wrote lyrics, rondeaus, satires, and a paraphrase of the penitential psalms. His poetry first appeared in an anthology, The Book of Songes and Sonnettes (1557) and many thought his work crude and irregular. Today's critics speak highly of Wyatt's rhythms for their vigor and expressiveness.


Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, " Wyatt, Thomas ", Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.

Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:

Today marks the birthday of Francesco di Petracco (July 20, 1304:

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