Verse > Anthologies > Hunt and Lee, eds. > The Book of the Sonnet
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Hunt and Lee, comps.  The Book of the Sonnet.  1867.
 
Brunet and Phyllis
By Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542)
 
IF 1 waker care,—if sudden pale color,—
If many sighs with little speech to plain,—
Now joy, now woe, if they my cheer distain,—
For hope of small, if much to fear therefore,—
To haste or slack my pace to less or more,—        5
Be sign of love, then do I love again.
If thou ask whom,—sure, since I did refrain
Brunet, that set my wealth in such a roar,
The unfeignéd cheer of Phyllis hath the place
That Brunet had;—she hath, and ever shall.        10
She from myself now hath me in her grace;
She hath in hand my wit, my will, and all.
  My heart alone well worthy she doth stay,
  Without whose help scant do I live a day.
 
Note 1. See Essay. The first part of this sonnet is supposed to have been suggested to Wyatt by the sonnet of Petrarca beginning,
  “S’ una fede amorosa, un cor non finto,”—
of which he had elsewhere given an entire version. If so, the latter part may be equally supposed to have been suggested by some French song. I think I have a recollection of some such contrastment of a Phyllis and a Brunette in old French poetry. Yet these propositions and contrapositions are so common in love-poets, that the feeling may have originated with Sir Thomas himself; though he was a Petrarcist professed. In a court like that of Henry VIII. Wyatt may well enough have met with a Brunette of his own, who revolted him with her ostentation and her love of wealth,—setting his mercer’s and jeweller’s bills “in a roar.”
  The names of Brunet (Brunetta) and Phyllis in conjunction are to be found nowhere else, I believe, in English literature, except in Steele’s amusing story of the two rival beauties in the Spectator, No. 80. Did he get them from Wyatt? It is pleasant to think so, and not at all unlikely. Wyatt was just the sort of man to be loved and admired by Steele. [back]
 
 
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