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6 When love has gone.

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Two poems on the theme of love moving on. Brooke's concentrating on the Jealousy he feels and the Wyatt being rather more bewildered.


I hope these interest you all, the Wyatt is a particular favourite of mine,especially interesting regarding the background and I think the Brooke is a fascinating contrast to his better known war poetry.


Jealousy Rupert Brooke


WHEN I see you, who were so wise and cool,

Gazing with silly sickness on that fool

You’ve given your love to, your adoring hands

Touch his so intimately that each understands,

I know, most hidden things; and when I know

Your holiest dreams yield to the stupid bow

Of his red lips, and that the empty grace

Of those strong legs and arms, that rosy face,

Has beaten your heart to such a flame of love,

That you have given him every touch and move,

Wrinkle and secret of you, all your life,

—Oh! then I know I’m waiting, lover-wife,

For the great time when love is at a close,

And all its fruit’s to watch the thickening nose

And sweaty neck and dulling face and eye,

That are yours, and you, most surely, till you die!

Day after day you’ll sit with him and note

The greasier tie, the dingy wrinkling coat;

As prettiness turns to pomp, and strength to fat,

And love, love, love to habit!


And after that,

When all that’s fine in man is at an end,

And you, that loved young life and clean, must tend

A foul sick fumbling dribbling body and old,

When his rare lips hang flabby and can’t hold

Slobber, and you’re enduring that worst thing,

Senility’s queasy furtive love-making,

And searching those dear eyes for human meaning,

Propping the bald and helpless head, and cleaning

A scrap that life’s flung by, and love’s forgotten,—

Then you’ll be tired; and passion dead and rotten;

And he’ll be dirty, dirty!

O little and free

And lightfoot, that the poor heart cries to see,

That’s how I’ll see your man and you!—


But you

—Oh, when that time comes, you’ll be dirty too!




They Flee From Me Thomas Wyatt



They flee from me that sometime did me seek

With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.

I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,

That now are wild and do not remember

That sometime they put themselves in danger

To take bread at my hand; and now they range,

Busily seeking with a continual change.


Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise

Twenty times better; but once in special,

In thin array after a pleasant guise,

When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,

And she me caught in her arms long and small;

And therewithal sweetly did me kiss

And softly said, "dear heart, how like you this?"


It was no dream: I lay broad waking.

But all is turned thorough my gentleness

Into a strange fashion of forsaking;

And I have leave to go of her goodness,

And she also, to use newfangleness.

But since that I so kindly am served

I would fain know what she hath deserved.

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I don't know if it was meant to, but the petulance of the Brooke made me laugh.

He's all waspish about his girl's new lover, and dwells on the inevitable decay of his physical beauty, forgetting until the last line that she will be just as badly served by time...and ignoring completely his own future decrepitude.

Loved it!


The Wyatt is, of course completely different in tone. More a puzzled contemplation of an affair where the woman moves on of her own accord, rather than being discarded by a fickle lover.


I'll be back when I've given them a bit of thought.


I have noted that in both poems it is the woman who has done the leaving!

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I agree. I didn't really like the Brooke, though. I found it just too nasty and bitter, although perhaps it did accurately and honestly reflect the kind of feelings we experience in rejection. Like you, elfstar, the Wyatt is one of my favourites and again so accurately conveys a feeling of emptiness when the loss is so sudden and unexpected. The bitterness is also much more muted than the Brooke - just a dark implication in the final line. It's interesting how the woman becomes rather like an animal - a deer or such-like - one he has momentarily tamed but, like a wild animal, cannot keep. The Wyatt is all about the woman being free and untamed where the Brooke is about her becoming constrained by what the poet sees as an unworthy and mundane relationship.


I seem to recall that critics believe the Wyatt might be about the poet's relationship with Anne Boleyn? Has anyone else read that?

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I seem to recall that critics believe the Wyatt might be about the poet's relationship with Anne Boleyn? Has anyone else read that?


It is an attractive thought that the young woman who turned the tables on this seeker of 'newfangledness' among the ladies at court should be his most famous (supposed) lover. That he loved her is well known, although there is no certainty that they became lovers. She was reputedly a lively intelligent girl. maybe she did initiate an affair and then move on to a more interesting conquest


I don't know when this poem was written, but the last line might be a reference to Anne's fate in having caught Henry's eye or, if written after her death, in her execution.


The changes in the meaning of words since the 16th century makes what was probably a fairly 'veiled' subject even more obscure to modern eyes


Another of Wyatt's poems 'Whoso List To Hunt' seems to have a more obvious reference to Anne Boleyn.

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Thanks for the reference. I've looked at Whose List to Hunt and it's another good poem. Lots of links with the one we're considering, particularly the deer imagery.



I had it in reserve to back up the imagery which I think is particuarly beautiful in these two Wyatt poems.


I also think the Wyatt has a sense of bewilderment about it which is rather touching.


As a matter of fact I dont LIKE the Brooke either but i think it is very evocative of a certain kind of reaction......

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Re-reading the Brooke (and still amused by its waspishness) the thought crossed my mind that it was the sort of spiteful jealous venom one might associate with a certain type of homosexual man.

Not knowing Brooke's sexual proclivities (nor caring until now) I looked up some biographical details, and apparantly he was bisexual, so perhaps I'd better withdraw the following comment from my first post!

I have noted that in both poems it is the woman who has done the leaving!
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