Sir Thomas Wyatt

I Find no Peace by Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt’s well-known sonnet ‘I Find no Peace’ describes the intense emotions and wavering moods that being in love can cause. Being written during the time of the Renaissance, when people valued love yet condemned the idea of love before marriage or having mistresses, the poet tries to explain the complexities of being in love. This also explains why the majority of Wyatt’s poems deal with love and heartbreak as themes.

I find no peace, and all my war is done by Thomas Wyatt


Summary of I Find no Peace

Thomas Wyatt‘s ‘I Find no Peace,’  explores the complex nature of love and its effect on the one who loves. The poet’s misery of being in love clear in the contradictory images present.

In this poem ‘I Find no Peace,’ the speaker expresses his misery of being in love through absolutely contradictory ideas. The title which is also the first line begins with his inability to rest despite having no war to fight. His conflicting emotions are present in the way he is optimistic and afraid, ablaze and frozen, soaring yet unable to take off, desires death yet demands strength.  He says he has nothing, yet he holds the whole world. Further, he feels there are no locks strong enough to bind or imprison him, yet bound by love in an inescapable prison. Ultimately, he feels that he has no control over his life or death. Also, in love, he sees without his eyes and complains without a tongue. Towards the end of the poem, the speaker seems to be happy despite the paradoxical elements of love.


Form and Structure

Wyatt, credited with introducing the sonnet to English literature, followed the Petrarchan sonnet form in most of his poems. ‘I Find no Peace’, is also an example of a Petrarchan sonnet in English. The poem is structured in a “single stanza” where the ideas are arranged orderly following the Petrarchan structure. The 14 lines of the poem are divided into two parts: an octave (8 lines) and a sestet (6lines). The rhyme scheme of the poem goes as follows: ABBA ABBA CDE CDE.


Themes in I Find no Peace

Petrarchan sonnets and the poems of Wyatt treats “love” as the major theme. The poem delineates the nature of Love as something that could make a person feel sorrow, pain, joy, and confusion at the same time. Considering the time of the poem the poet could be talking about some forbidden love that makes him feel unease. Though the poem doesn’t specifically reveal the context of these emotional fluctuations, it could easily be associated with a number of situations people in love face. Eventually, in the poem, the narrator expresses the way in which his mind and soul are driven by indecision.


Tone of I Find no Peace

The tone of the poemI Find no Peace’ goes hand in hand with the theme of the poem. It identifies the speaker to be in some sort of mental conflict. The tone pictures the speaker’s emotional imbalance as a result of this unsettled love.  It switches from being ‘sad’ to ‘dark’ and to ‘unsettled’. The words “Death,” “Fear”, “Hope”, “Sorrow”, “Burn”, and “No peace” express the tone and the pain of the speaker. Ultimately, the tone is one of torment and conflict, as he is torn between life and death.


Literary and Poetic Devices

The major poetic devices used are obviously oxymoron and paradox, at the same time the poet has used simile, metaphor, and hyperbole too, in this poem.

The title of the poem itself foreshadows how he does not find peace while he is in love. The speaker uses a lot of contradictory concepts “Fear and hope”, “burn and freeze like ice”, “find no peace, and all my war is done” to express his ambiguous state of mind. Many lines of the poem feature opposing ideas, as in is “I desire to perish, and yet I ask health.” The narrator wants to die but also desires health. The word “yet” is in many of these lines, symbolizing the narrator’s torn conscience.

The poet used a series of an oxymoron: love and hate; sorrow and pain; death and life; delight and strife. The first oxymoron in the poem is peace and war. In the second line, the poet used fear and hope; burn and freeze.

The author uses the simile to compare himself to ice, yet uses the opposites “burn and freeze” to highlight the confusion of his love. He also uses metaphors such as “That loseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison,” meaning that he is neither free nor held in prison. This comparison is also a hyperbole used, for the poet exaggerates that nothing could bind him, except his love for his beloved.

The poet uses “Anaphora” in the poem to specifically draw attention to the speaker. “I”, repeated twice in the poem is used as an anaphora. Wyatt begins the poem with “I find no peace/I fear and hope/I burn and freeze like ice”. For the poet wants the readers to take a note of it, and understand his emotions more.


Analysis of I Find no Peace

I find no peace, and all my war is done.

I fear and hope. I burn and freeze like ice.

I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;

And nought I have, and all the world I season.

That loseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison

And holdeth me not—yet can I scape no wise—

Nor letteth me live nor die at my device,

And yet of death it giveth me occasion.

In the octave of the poem, ‘I Find no Peace’ delineates on the contradictory nature of his love. The poet finds himself wanting peace of mind in the first line for he is extremely confused. Despite the end of his doubts and fears, he still cannot find the opportunity to immerse himself in tranquility. The physical extremes such as burning and freezing connote the psychological consequences of the dramatic emotions involved. Further, he compares love to prison, and in that prison, he stays willingly.


Lines 9 – 14

Without eyen I see, and without tongue I plain.

I desire to perish, and yet I ask health.

I love another, and thus I hate myself.

I feed me in sorrow and laugh in all my pain;

Likewise displeaseth me both life and death,

And my delight is causer of this strife.

In the sestet, the poet continues to deliberate on the overpowering contradictions the love has caused. The speaker uses hyperbole to express that he can see without his eyes and speak without his tongue. He wishes to die however he also wishes for strength to live. It becomes interesting in the line 11,  for he says, he loves his beloved therefore he hates himself. He celebrates his sorrow and enjoys his pain. This is very ironic since no one would find joy when hurt or in pain. He compares love to his delight, since that is his greatest pleasure, yet it has become his struggle.


Similar Poetry

“Love” is a universal theme that is found in literature, especially in poetry down the ages. Some of the notable poems that best depict the theme of love as follows: Sonnet 18: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ By William Shakespeare‘My Love is like to ice, and I to fire’ by Edmund Spenser, ‘The Good-Morrow’ by John Donne, ‘She Walks in Beauty’ by Lord Byron, ‘Meeting at Night’ by Robert Browning, and ‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’ by Christopher Marlowe.

Readers can also read the following poems of Thomas Wyatt: ‘Whoso List to Hunt’, ‘They Flee From Me’, ‘What No, Perdie’,Lux, My Fair Falcon’ and ‘Blame Not My Lute!’.

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Miz Alb Poetry Expert
Miz Alb received her MA in English Literature. Her thirst for literature makes her explore through the nuances of it. She loves reading and writing poetry. She teaches English Language and Literature to the ESL students of tertiary level.
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