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Short poem

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

My Galley, Charged with Forgetfulness

              1My galley, chargèd with forgetfulness,
              2Thorough sharp seas in winter nights doth pass
              3'Tween rock and rock; and eke mine en'my, alas,
              4That is my lord, steereth with cruelness;
              5And every owre a thought in readiness,
              6As though that death were light in such a case.
              7An endless wind doth tear the sail apace
              8Of forced sighs and trusty fearfulness.
              9A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain,
            10Hath done the weared cords great hinderance;
            11Wreathèd with error and eke with ignorance.
            12The stars be hid that led me to this pain;
            13Drownèd is Reason that should me comfort,
            14And I remain despairing of the port.


1] The source of this poem is Petrarch's 189th (156th) sonnet (Mestica, 268-69):

Passa la nave mia colma d' oblio
Per aspro mare, a mezza notte, il verno
E 'nfra Scilla e Cariddi; ed al governo
Siede 'l signore, anzi 'l nimico mio:
A ciascun remo un penser pronto e rio,
Che la tempesta e 'l fin par ch' abbi a' scherno:
La vela rompe un vento, umido, eterno,
Di sospir, di speranze e di desio:
Pioggia li lagrimar, nebbia di sdegni
Bagna e rallenta le già stanche sarte,
Che son d' error con ignoranzia attorto:
Celansi i duo mei dolci usati segni;
Morta fra l' onde è la ragion e l' arte:
Tal ch' i' 'ncomincio a desperar del porto.
"The louer compareth his state to a shippe in perilous storme tossed on the sea."
chargèd with forgetfulness: so preoccupied (by love) that it forgets all other things. The MS reads "charged."

2] Thorough: through.

3] rock and rock: Petrarch's Scylla and Charybdis.
eke: also.
en'my: MS "enemy".
mine enemy: Cupid.

4] lord, steereth: "who" is understood.

5] owre: oar, as in Petrarch, but playing possibly on "hour."

8] Of forced sighs: "sighs" in the Arundel Castle Harington MS, and "sightes" in Egerton.This line modifies "An endless wind" in line 7.

10] cords: tackle, lines holding the sails in place.

11] wreathèd: MS "wrethed".
eke: also.

12] The stars: her eyes. Cf. Petrarch, "i duo miei dolce usati segni," "my two sweet familiar stars.''

13] drownèd: MS "drowned".
comfort. Muir reads "consort" (meaning "accompanying"), which may be correct.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: British Library Egerton MS. 2711, fol. 21v; cf. Richard Harrier, Canon (1975): 125.
First publication date: 1557
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger, Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RP 1963: I.4; RPO 1994.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/1

Form: sonnet
Rhyme: abbaabbacddcee

Other poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt