Poets have used their gifts to many ends. To explore emotions, to celebrate nature, to praise God, to celebrate in rhyme, to argue and judge, to seduce, to attack, and as a means of self-presentation in the hierarchical structure of the court in sixteenth century England, by the use of witty lyrics and twofold meanings. Sir Thomas Wyatt and Sir Philip Sidney were two poets who spanned the Henry VIII and Elizabethan era. They used their poetry with the hope of bringing attention to themselves in their society.
Before undertaking a discussion on the poetry of the poets themselves, we should first familiarize ourselves with the conditions of the society at that time, so that we may comprehend the relation of the poetry to the hidden interplay of power that structured the society in the time of the courtier poets. The poetry of the sixteenth century was almost entirely the produce of the aristocracy.
Aspiring members of the middle class, who had chances of upward mobility, pursued a career of writing.
The court was a major institution that dominated the poetry of this era. It exhibited ideas that were often contradictory or confusing. Its somewhat concrete existence brought about a passion that reflected the concentration of power and cultural dominance. As a matter of fact, throughout the Renaissance, European courts attempted to use the arts as a means of controlling and creating the tastes, beliefs, habits and allegiances of their subjects. This can be seen in the various poetry of unrequited love. In the Renaissance, some poets used their poetry to complain, as in the case of Sir Thomas Wyatt. He had a strong opinion on the use of words, spoken lightly and without care. As can be seen from this excerpt from "Throughout the World"
Throughout the world, if...