Posts Tagged ‘William Tyndall’


Friend of Sir Thomas Wyatt
This looks like the face of a friend.

I came upon the poem “Mine own John Poinz” and was intrigued by the poem and the man. This is how Holbein sketched Poinz (or Poins) but who WAS he?

According to Edmund Lodge in Facsimiles of original drawings by Hans Holbein, “John Poins, or Poyntz, of Essex … was, as we have seen, a follower of the court, and, as we may fairly presume, a man of some taste, since the elegant Sir Thomas Wyat deigned to address two poems to him…”

I also found John’s family had a relationship with William Tyndall who started translating the Bible around 1521. Of course Cardinal Wolsey banned the book and demanded his arrest.  In 1530 Tyndall opposed Henry’s divorce, and … we all know how the king felt about those who disagreed.

Meanwhile our ancestor had friends who were close to the man. On 25 August 1535 Thomas Poyns wrote to his “well beloved brother” John Poyns …”It was said here that the King had granted letters in favor of one Wm. Tyndall, who is in prison, and like to suffer death unless the King help him. It is thought now that the letters have been stopped. He lodged with me three quarters of a year, and was taken out of my house by a sergeant-of-arms, otherwise [called] a door-warder, and the procurer-general of Brabant.”

Cromwell (friend of our ancestor and minister of Henry VIII from 1532 to 1540) tried to prevent Tyndall’s death, but failed.

In 1536 Tyndall was “tied to a stake, strangled and then his body burnt.” I don’t know if Sir Thomas met or knew Tyndall, but it becomes clear he could not be witness to the king’s behaviors without paying an emotional price.

That same year Anne Boleyn and her brother George – his lifelong friends – were beheaded by the king. He saw Anne’s death during his own imprisonment in the Tower.  His sister was at her side.

In 1536 Thomas was 33 years old and Simonds* wrote “but from now on his writings become more and more deeply tinged with the sober shades born of experience and reflection. It was impossible for a mind like his, – a mind so responsive to the charms of the new learning, – to pass through the troubled times of which we speak without profoundly realizing the uncertainty of fortune and the vanity of human success.”

In 1540 he wept at Cromwell’s violent death. He had seen too much.

According to Simonds, in 1542 Wyatt “was now once more living in retirement at his pleasant home of Allington; and here he evidently hoped to spend the remainder of his days in the enjoyment of those quiet delights which he pictures in the Satires. He had had enough of the life at Court, and could rightly estimate the doubtful happiness and vain security of those who ‘Stand … upon the slipper top of high estate.’”

He wrote his friend …

“Mine own John Poynz, since ye delight to know
The cause why that homeward I me draw,
And flee the press of courts, whereso they go,
Rather than to live thrall under the awe
Of lordly looks, wrappèd within my cloak,
To will and lust learning to set a law:
It is not for because I scorn or mock
The power of them, to whom fortune hath lent
Charge over us, of right, to strike the stroke.
But true it is that I have always meant
Less to esteem them than the common sort,
Of outward things that judge in their intent
Without regard what doth inward resort.
I grant sometime that of glory the fire
Doth twyche my heart. Me list not to report
Blame by honour, and honour to desire.
But how may I this honour now attain,
That cannot dye the colour black a liar?
My Poynz, I cannot from me tune to feign,
To cloak the truth for praise without desert
Of them that list all vice for to retain.
I cannot honour them that sets their part
With Venus and Bacchus all their life long;
Nor hold my peace of them although I smart.
I cannot crouch nor kneel to do so great a wrong,
To worship them, like God on earth alone,
That are as wolves these sely lambs among.
I cannot with my word complain and moan,
And suffer nought, nor smart without complaint,
Nor turn the word that from my mouth is gone.
I cannot speak and look like a saint,
Use willes for wit, and make deceit a pleasure,
And call craft counsel, for profit still to paint.
I cannot wrest the law to fill the coffer
With innocent blood to feed myself fat,
And do most hurt where most help I offer.
I am not he that can allow the state
Of him Caesar, and damn Cato to die,
That with his death did scape out of the gate
From Caesar’s hands (if Livy do not lie)
And would not live where liberty was lost;
So did his heart the common weal apply.
I am not he such eloquence to boast
To make the crow singing as the swan;
Nor call the liond of cowardes beasts the most
That cannot take a mouse as the cat can;
And he that dieth for hunger of the gold
Call him Alexander; and say that Pan
Passeth Apollo in music many fold;
Praise Sir Thopias for a noble tale,
And scorn the story that the Knight told;
Praise him for counsel that is drunk of ale;
Grin when he laugheth that beareth all the sway,
Frown when he frowneth and groan when is pale;
On others’ lust to hang both night and day:
None of these points would ever frame in me.
My wit is nought—I cannot learn the way.
And much the less of things that greater be,
That asken help of colours of device
To join the mean with each extremity,
With the nearest virtue to cloak alway the vice;
And as to purpose, likewise it shall fall
To press the virtue that it may not rise;
As drunkenness good fellowship to call;
The friendly foe with his double face
Say he is gentle and courteous therewithal;
And say that favel hath a goodly grace
In eloquence; and cruelty to name
Zeal of justice and change in time and place;
And he that suffer’th offence without blame
Call him pitiful; and him true and plain
That raileth reckless to every man’s shame.
Say he is rude that cannot lie and feign;
The lecher a lover; and tyranny
To be the right of a prince’s reign.
I cannot, I; no, no, it will not be!
This is the cause that I could never yet
Hang on their sleeves that way, as thou mayst see,
A chip of chance more than a pound of wit.
This maketh me at home to hunt and to hawk,
And in foul weather at my book to sit;
In frost and snow then with my bow to stalk;
No man doth mark whereso I ride or go:
In lusty leas at liberty I walk.
And of these news I feel nor weal nor woe,
Save that a clog doth hang yet at my heel.
No force for that, for it is ordered so,
That I may leap both hedge and dyke full well.
I am not now in France to judge the wine,
With saffry sauce the delicates to feel;
Nor yet in Spain, where one must him incline
Rather than to be, outwardly to seem:
I meddle not with wits that be so fine.
Nor Flanders’ cheer letteth not my sight to deem
Of black and white; nor taketh my wit away
With beastliness; they beasts do so esteem.
Nor I am not where Christ is given in prey
For money, poison, and treason at Rome—
A common practice used night and day:
But here I am in Kent and Christendom
Among the Muses where I read and rhyme;
Where if thou list, my Poinz, for to come,
Thou shalt be judge how I do spend my time.”

To me he sounds sad, tired and defensive. Exhausted by the violence and deceptions.

I read he wanted to devote those years to the education of his sister’s son, Lady Lee. Despite her relationship with Anne Boleyn, some say her son was one of the king’s bastards. How like Henry to cheat on his queen with the sister of a friend. And how like Henry to expect that friend to help raise another bastard son.

We have to wonder how long Sir Thomas might have lived if the king had not called him out of retirement.

*From Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Poems by William Edward Simonds,  D. C. Heath & Company, 1889.


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