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Featured Poem: Patience, Though I Have Not by Sir Thomas Wyatt

Written by The Reader, 13th November 2018

The Reader's Learning and Quality Leader, Tom Young, shares his thoughts on this week's Featured Poem, Patience, Though I Have Not by Thomas Wyatt.

On a first read through I’m struck by there being a few lines with old-fashioned formulations that don’t mean much to me immediately, as well as that word ‘Patience’ which does fire a few synapses. I already know this one is going to take a bit of concentration, but I remember reading another poem by Thomas Wyatt that I really liked, so I’m willing to give it a go.

Rereading the first verse, I have a bit of a gut reaction against the instruction to ‘Forbear my most desire’ and wonder whether I am, really, a patient person or not. I quite like the picture of a boat sailing into the wind as it reminds me what a relief it can be to let go of things sometimes.

There are two big questions in my head as I read on; what could be the ‘thing that I require’? And, who are ‘they’ who seem to be making life more difficult for me? That mention of love at the end of the first verse is quite tantalizing – and I wonder if that could unlock something. It certainly feels like the frustrations of romantic love could be a way into the poem for lots of people.

The end feels a bit downbeat with the mention of ‘painful patience’, but on rereading I feel again quite reassured by an idea I’m getting that, in times of adversity or having suffered some seeming unfairness, there might be something I can do within myself to remedy it: ‘Patience must be the charm/ To heal me of my woe’.

If I had the opportunity to read this in a Shared Reading group, I would be very interested to know what others make of that; is patience more than just waiting, and what is it about it that changes us?

Patience, Though I Have Not 

Patience, though I have not
The thing that I require,
I must of force, God wot,
Forbear my most desire;
For no ways can I find
To sail against the wind.Patience, do what they will
To work me woe or spite,
I shall content me still
To think both day and night,
To think and hold my peace,
Since there is no redress.

Patience, withouten blame,
For I offended nought;
I know they know the same,
Though they have changed their thought.
Was ever thought so moved
To hate that it hath loved?

Patience of all my harm,
For fortune is my foe;
Patience must be the charm
To heal me of my woe:
Patience without offence
Is a painful patience.

by Sir Thomas Wyatt

Would you like the opportunity to read this or other poems in a Shared Reading group?

If you like the idea of listening along to story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? We run groups across the UK, you can find one near you here.

If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?

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