Erika Liu He on Sir Thomas Wyatt's "Mine Own John Poins"

Published by admin_main on Wed 29 Sep, 2010

28. How would you characterize the speaker's state of mind, his feelings about being separated from the courtly world? And what views does the speaker offer regarding the monarch, center of the courtly sphere?

The speaker in "Mine Own John Poins" rants about how he does not like how the court is ran and would never see himself following their ways. The court are also hypocrites and are treacherous.

From lines 11-18:

Less to esteem them than the common sort, Of outward things that judge in their intent, Without regard what doth inward resort. I grant sometime that of glory the fire Doth touch my heart; me list not to report Blame by honor, and honor to desire. But how may I this honor now attain, That cannot dye the color black a liar?

The speaker sees the court less the average people because the average people admire the noble people on their outer looks, possessions, and power. What the average people fail to see is the truth that the court hides inside. The speaker admits he has respect for the court because of their power almost to a point where there might be some jealous but he does not want to because he has his own morals and beliefs. He also does not think the court is honorable when they do dishonorable things and he is will not lie to himself about these actions either.

According to lines 20-24:

To cloak the truth for praise, without desert, of them that list all vice for to retain. I cannot honor them that sets their part With Venus and Bacchus all their life long,

The speaker is criticizing the court for being deceitful because they devote their lives to Venus and Bacchus. They are sinful because they are living their lives devoting to sex and alcohol and are trying to cover it up from the common people.

Then in lines 25-27:

I cannot crouch nor knell nor do so great of a wrong To worship them like God on earth alone that are as wolves these sely lambs among.

The speaker does not want to submit to the court and praise them for their wrong. The court are the wolves that are preying on the lambs which are the common people.

In lines 28-30 this is where the speaker shows why he separated from the court. The speaker knows that if he were to speak to the court he would be punished. However, the actions of the court got to him and he had to speak out.

In lines 28-30:

I cannot with my words complain and moan And suffer naught, nor smart without complaint, Nor turn the word that from my mouth is gone;

The speaker cannot complain without suffering or punishment but at the same time he cannot stand by and not say anything without suffering.

Line 31:

I cannot speak and look like a saint.

Here the speaker will not stand there and pretend to be one of them and act like a saint because the court aren't the saints in this situation. He will not be someone he is not.

Now the speaker is away from the court and even though no one knows him, he is content with where he is at and enjoys living the simple life.

In lines 82-83:

No man doth mark whereso I ride or go. In lusty leas at liberty I walk,

Despite how the speaker feels about the court, he is now content with where he is at and what he does. He lives the simple life and has a simple job that he enjoys.

The speaker offers his views of the monarch in lines 32-36.

According to lines 32-36:

Use wiles for wit and make deceit a pleasure, And call craft counsel, for profit still to paint; I cannot wrest the law to fill the coffer, With innocent blood to feed myself fat, And do most hurt where most help I offer. I am not he that can allow the state"

The speaker is now saying the court are using their wisdom and power to use innocent lives and sacrificing them for their own personal selfish reasons to cover up courtly wrongdoing. Innocent lives are being affected just because the court want to do wrongs things and want to get away with it without punishment. He also says that the court are taking away all this from innocent people and not offering any sort of help in return. The speaker will never allow it to get to this state.

What contrast between seeming and being does he make? And what contrast between the active and contemplative life do you find?

The speaker uses Caesar and Cato as two examples of how one seemed to be one way when in the end it didn't end up being that way.

Lines 38-42:

Of high Caesar and damn Cato to die, That with his death did 'scape out of the gate From Caesar's hands, if Livy do not lie, And would not live where liberty was lost, So did his heart the common weal apply.

Caesar was known as a very noble and honorable man. Everyone compared him to Alexander the Great and praised him when in reality he was a tyrant. Cato committed suicide because he didn't want to submit to Caesar and live under that type of ruling. His suicide was an act of rebelling. While everyone thought that Caesar was doing the right thing and helping the common people out, Cato committed suicide because he devoted himself to the common good in hopes of raising awareness of Caesar's corrupt ruling. Cato escaped from Caesar's hands but committing suicide, however, he would have killed himself with liberty lost. Caesar was praised as the noble man but Cato committed suicide for the common good of everyone else.

In lines 48-51:

Call him Alexander, and say that Pan Passeth Apollo in music many fold; Praise Sir Thopas for a noble tale, And scorn the story that the Knight told;"

The speaker is saying if we are calling and comparing Caesar to Alexander then we can also say that Pan Passeth's music is better then Apollo's and the tale Knight is not as good as Sir Thopas' noble tale. Caesar was nothing compared to Alexander just how we all know that Apollo's music was far better then Pan Passeth's music. Just like the Knight tale is known for it being good compared to Sir Thopas noble tale. These examples are shown to see what the common people thought was good and right.

Wyatt's active and contemplative life is the second part of the question. The speaker stood by and watched how corrupt the court was and tried raising awareness but never got any followers. Now he lives a simple life away from the courts.

In lines 71-75: Call him pitiful, and him true and plain That raileth reckless to every man's shame; Say he is rude that cannot lie and feign, The lecher a lover, and tyranny To be the right of a prince's reign.

The speaker is saying that the court seem so compassionate and merciful to the common people but it is only because they are bending the rules to keep that power there. For those who speak out and rebel are considered uneducated and get punished. Here we could see how the court control everything and maintain their power because whoever spoke out and rebelled was looked upon as uneducated and a liar.

In lines 77-78:

This is the cause that I could never yet Hang on their sleeves that weight, as thou mayst see

Wyatt is showing that he has tried to form a group of believers in his morals and views of the courts, but failed to ever get supporters.

Starting from line 79 all the way to the end, the speaker shows the contemplative side of the writing. After failing to raise attention to the court, the speaker walks away from the court. Even if he is not known, he is peacefully at liberty. He is now at Kent where he surrounds himself with a simple life of reading and rhyming among the Muses. He is free from all the corruption.


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