V. Innocentia
Veritas Viat Fides
Circumdederunt
me inimici mei
1

by Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Elder

Who list his wealth and ease retain,
Himself let him unknown contain.
Press not too fast in at that gate
Where the return stands by disdain,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.2

The high mountains are blasted oft
When the low valley is mild and soft.
Fortune with Health stands at debate.
The fall is grievous from aloft.
And sure, circa Regna tonat.

These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The bell tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

B. MS.


1. The Latin title adapts Psalm 16.9: "My enemies surround my soul."
Wyatt's name ("Viat") in the title is surrounded by Innocence, Truth,
and Faith.

2. "It thunders through the realms," Seneca, Phaedra, 1.1140.
The first two stanzas paraphrase lines from that play.


[AJ Note: It is generally thought Wyatt wrote this poem after witnessing
the execution of Anne Boleyn and her "accomplices" from the window
grate of his cell in the Bell Tower at the Tower of London.]



Audio reading ©2012 Anniina Jokinen:
Quicktime

To get the free Quicktime plugin, click here.
For the direct .MP3 file, click here.


Text source:
Norton Anthology of English Literature, 6th ed. v.1.
New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1993. 447.


Back to Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt

Site copyright ©1996-2012 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on August 3, 1996. Last updated January 21, 2012.