Autumn 1951 • Vol. XIII No. 4 Book Reviews |

The Criticism of Wyatt

Collected Poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt edited by Kenneth Muir. The Muses' Library. Harvard Press. $2.10. Wyatt seems to me the most important neglected poet of the English Renaissance. He has always received admiration of a kind—as a pioneer, as the teacher of a supposedly more gifted poet, Surrey, and as the author of a small handful of successful lyrics who also wrote some lovely though scattered single lines and phrases. But not until the 20th Century has he been recognized as a better poet than Surrey—though this, I should judge, is still a minority opinion. (The question of superiority is itself perhaps not very important, but something important is involved. For Wyatt has been judged more in terms of Surrey's accomplishments than of his own, and that has meant, historically, in terms of Surrey's superior smoothness of versification.) Wyatt has long been a kind of historical curiosity, a lesser Surrey who is more representative of the old age than of the new, but who still

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