Central theme of the poem I Find No Peace by Thomas Wyatt

I Find No Peace is a typical product by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elizabethan sonneteer, who like contemporaries drew heavily upon the Petrarchan treatment of the love-theme. However, he, a pioneer in the use of autobiographical material in poetry, introduced into English literature the sonnet-subject of unrequited love. Full of private emotions, this present sonnet expresses his conflicting states of mind, the acute ambivalence of a man suffering from the love which cannot be satisfied.

Though a poet, Wyatt was a scholar, a govt official, and diplomat. He was however involved in an unfortunate ‘amorous affair With Anne Boleyn, who later proves disloyal to the poet and was married to Henry the king. Wyatt incurred the royal wrath and was imprisoned twice. Wyatt’s genuine, selfless love for Miss Boleyn was only rewarded with infidelities and disloyalties of the lady, imprisonment, sorrows, sufferings, miseries, and death. Yet, till the last day of his life, he could not forget Anne. He continued to swing between love and despair, passion and self-pity, or between amorous desires and hatred. I Find No Peace has captured faithfully these personal ambivalent feelings.

The theme of the poem is love, the powerful sexual aspect of it. The sonnet presents the state of restlessness that is caused by the violent impact of love. The lover feels upset, quite confounded, and confused at the intensity of his unsettled love that gives him neither rest nor peace. The poem begins with his categorical admission ” I find no peace”. On the other hand, this love overwhelms all his physical senses and emotional sensibility.

The poet expresses how this great affliction on the body and mind paralyzes the lover’s judgment as well as feeling. Under the inexplicable spell of love, he wonders to ascertain what he seeks or shuns. Mental conflict and quietude, fear, and softness all roll into one to make him greatly agitated, acutely uneasy. The poem strikes both the passion and the profundity of love. It brings out how the delight of love is the “causer’ of the internal ‘strife’ in the lover subject to the pressing passion of love. He is confounded for he is overpowered with the intense feeling of love that deeply disturbs his inner world with contradictory pulls.

Wyatt is subject to the conflicting states of mind. Antithetical pulls do not allow him any rest or mental peace. He bears hope as well as fear, passion as well as passivity. He enjoys freedom as well as suffers from captivity. He seems to possess nothing, yet he holds everything. Life has no comfort for him, yet he finds no ‘occasion’ for death. He feels himself helpless and can neither ‘live nor die’ at his on ‘devise’. He has contradictory feelings and inclinations, and this is well pronounced in his admission.

“I desire to perish, and yet I ask health
I love another, and thus I hate myself.
I feed me in sorrow, and laugh in all my pain.”

He is, in fact, equally sick of life and death – “Likewise displeaseth me both death and life “. Indeed, the passion of love holds him so strongly and strikes him so hard that he seems to lose his power of judgment as well as reasoning.

Finally, Wyatt mentions the cause of this suffering, “And my delight is causer of this strife”. Love’s delight possesses and overwhelms him and paralyzes completely his individuality. The poem well brings out the psychology of bewilderment of such a lover who is terribly tossed by an inexplicable ecstasy, who, however, is yet to be satisfied with his love. These personal feelings become even more forceful and poignant when we remember Wyatt’s unrequited love for Anne which ultimately results in his death.