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Short poem

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

What should I Say

              1What should I say,
              2Since faith is dead,
              3And truth away
              4From you is fled?
              5Should I be led
              6With doubleness?
              7Nay, nay, mistress!

              8I promised you,
              9And you promised me,
            10To be as true
            11As I would be.
            12But since I see
            13Your double heart,
            14Farewell my part!

            15Though for to take
            16It is not my mind,
            17But to forsake
            18[One so unkind]
            19And as I find,
            20So will I trust:
            21Farewell, unjust!

            22Can ye say nay?
            23But you said
            24That I alway
            25Should be obeyed?
            26And thus betrayed
            27Or that I wiste--
            28Farewell, unkissed.


7] mistress: polite form of address for a married woman.

13-14] The MS. rhymes are "herte" and "perte'' (French for "loss," punning on English "part').

18] This line is missing in the original, Devonshire MS. Add. 17492. Nott's conjecture (here) has also been adopted by Muir and Thomson and by Rebholz.

23] But: that.
alway: always.

27] Or ... wiste: before I knew.

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 Devonshire MS. 2711, fol. 77; cf. Collected Poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt, ed. Kenneth Muir and Patricia Thomson (Liverpool, 1969): 220-21.
First publication date: 1815
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger, Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RP 1963: I.11 (F. D. Hoeniger); RPO 1994 (IL).
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/1

Rhyme: ababbcc

Other poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt