He fights with flashing weapons
- BuyThomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest by Susan Brigden
Faber, 714 pp, £30.00, September 2012, ISBN 978 0 571 23584 1
- Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy by Nicola Shulman
Short Books, 378 pp, £20.00, April 2011, ISBN 978 1 906021 11 5
Before Anne Boleyn laid her head on the executioner’s block, she bent and wrapped the hem of her dress around her feet. She thereby ensured that, if in her death throes she were to spreadeagle her legs, the crowd would not see up her skirt. It was a gesture at once gracious and gruesome, and the verse that Sir Thomas Wyatt (probably) wrote on the occasion from the Tower of London is equally dark (‘circa Regna tonat’ means ‘it thunders around the throne’):
The bell towre showid me suche syght
That in my head stekys day and nyght
There dyd I lerne out of A grate
For all vavore glory or myght
That yet circa Regna tonat.
By proffe I say the[r] dyd I lerne,
Wyt helpythe not deffence to yerne
Of innocencie to pled or prate
Ber low therffor geve god the sterne,
For sure circa Regna tonat.