'A Renouncing of Love (Farewell, Love)'
The poet first bids goodbye forever to Love personified and its rules. He states that the ‘baited hooks’ will no longer ensnare him. He is called away from Love by Seneca and Plato to the real riches of wit and intellect.
He gives the reason for this change of heart in line 5 and 6, as he sees that when he made ignorant mistakes, the cruel words of Love pricked him, and instructed him instead in pointless lessons that he no longer cares for. In line 8 he says that he has escaped since freedom is his lever. Another interpretation of this line utilizes preferable as the meaning for 'lever'; Wyatt is saying freedom is preferable to love.
In the final sestet, the poet takes his leave of Love, directing it to ‘younger hearts’. He claims that Love no longer has any authority over him, and suggests it takes its offerings to the young and lazy. In line 12 he suggests that Love uses up its fragile arrows, as although he has lost time over Love, he will no longer climb rotten branches to reach his goal.
It is important to remember that Wyatt’s use of punctuation was limited and sporadic. He did not capitalize to indicate personification, so later editors capitalized ‘Love’. It is still likely, however, that love is being personified here. In renouncing the ‘laws’ of love, the poet is rejecting the rules of court and society as well as the emotional effects of intense relationships. The metaphor of ‘baited hooks’ works as an allegory for fishing, but also presents as an oxymoron in the ‘bait’ being the pleasure and the ‘hook’ being the painful consequence of the former.
By the third line, the poet tells us that he is now drawn to more cerebral concerns, namely studying the philosophies of Plato and Seneca. Seneca was commonly studied at universities in Tudor times. A Stoic, Seneca asserted that there were three choices of how to live; a life of theory, a life of politics...