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April 14, 2008
The thing you start to see, when you look at the way Wyatt translates Petrarch, is that it's so important to him to be a translator. Because he NEEDS to express two voices in his poems, all of which do contain two voices: the formal (that is, the voice of the form, the sonnet form but also the form of a poem in general, as well as the voice that is refined, logical, and formal in this sense - formal in the sense of correct, and publicly so - it thus coincides with a PUBLIC voice [just as people see a Public/Private conflict in Virgil's Aeneid]), and the personal (that is, the voice of his poetic persona, or indeed his own voice, that which makes his poetry uniquely his - this can also be seen as the subversive, like Virgil's private voice); these formal and informal voices can easily become Italian and English - the form itself is Italian, thus its voice is Petrarch's, but the language is English, and thus Wyatt's own language, the voice of the English renaissance: so the poems have to be translations in this sense. When the poems are weaker, these voices are in conflict and opposition, though sometimes this conflict is their strength: but overall they have a dialogic (I think that's how you spell it?) relationship, and when you start reading that, you can appreciate an artistic process that is both very renaissance, and also pretty much universal to art: all artists have to deal with the voice of the art-form, and the art is often a fascinating, sometimes beautiful, dialogue between the artist and the art form. And sometimes it's shit.
What I have come to conclude is that Elizabeth Deering Hanscon is a total n00b. She bums Surrey for his logic and consistency - basically his BORINGNESS...! - and criticises Wyatt for his flexibility (some, Sister Lizzie, would call it EXPRESSION!!!)... she also ignores the fact that these were the FIRST English sonnets; they had no linguistic point of reference, and indeed no imitators at the time. Cor blimey. But she very conveniently reads ALL of Petrarch's and Wyatt's sonnets in the most boring way possible (counting every tiny metrical, grammatical and structural similarity or difference), basically so that I don't have to; I can't really thank her enough.