Under the heavy impact of the Renaissance the English poetical literature came with the contact of the sonnet form which became an extremely popular in the poets of the Elizabethan period. It was Sir Thomas Wyatt who inaugurated the sonnet in English literature following the great sonnet master Petrarch. Wyatt tried his best to make the Petrarchan sonnet to be implanted with its theme as well as technique into English literature.
The Petrarchan sonnet provides the English poet not only with a form but also with the sentiments. The whole nature of the relation between the poet and his beloved had become conventionalised in terms of an idealized courtly love attitude, which Petrarch had manifested toward Laura in his love sonnets. The notion of the lover as the humble servant of the fair lady, injured by her glance, tempest-tossed in seas of despair in rejection, changing in mood according to the presence or absence of his beloved—was derived from the medieval view of courtly love, a concept of love which arose out of the changing attitude towards women centring round Virgin Mary as an ideal example. At this point it must be pointed out that the imported poetic theme had also become essential for satisfying the mental needs and cultural tastes of the English gentlemen created by the Renaissance. That is why we find the historical existence of the English counterparts of Laura almost for all the 16th century sonneteers.
Like a conventional Petrarchan sonnet Wyatt’s ‘I Find No Peace’ treats the old theme of love as well as the pangs and stress of love. The lover in the poem is in the conflicting state of mind. He finds no peace in mind and heart. Though he is quiet sure about the success of his love, yet he has no escape from the acute torment and pressure created by the agitated state of his mind. He possesses fear as well as hope. He suffers from despondency, yet bears optimism. The fire of love is in him but he breezes like ice. He finds himself empty yet he holds the possession of the whole world. He feels himself loose yet locked.
“That looseth nor locket holdeth me in Prison,
And holdeth me not,”
The intensity of love makes him vexing and tossing. To him life seems painful and anguishing and in such a context death might have been a comfort but he sees no ground for death as he is in love. He really does not know what to seek or shun. He desires to perish yet asks for health. He loves another only to hate himself. He feeds himself in sorrow and yet laughs at all his pain. Indeed, the passion of love holds him so strongly and paralyzes his beings that he seems to loose his power of Judgment.
Like a typical Petrarchan love poem ‘I Find No Peace’ bears the singleness in its theme, mood and imagery, the theme may be either the fulfillment or the frustration of love and the poet’s mood and imagery may be varied but the total impression will be unified one. In ‘I Find No Peace’ the restlessness of the lover is expressed through different antithetical elements. Different images and changing moods are there to emphasize the forceful and inexplicable spell of love. The ecstasy of love is the cause of the lover’s rocking agitation.
‘And my delight is causer of this strife’
So his admissions obviously categorical - ‘I Find No Peace’. Infact love rules and rolls on him and makes him restless.
Conventional Petrarchan sonnet bears a specific technique. Its fourteen lines are divided into two unequal parts of eight and six lines respectively. Usually there are altogether five rhymes – a, b, c, d, e. Wyatt, as he was the follower of Petrarch framed his sonnet in the conventional form. He may likewise divide his sonnet into octave containing first eight lines and sestet with last six lines and the sonnet have the conventional rhymes.
But it is to be noted that Wyatt’s sonnet is markedly different from the conventional sonnet in some cases. First in a conventional sonnet the theme is generally stated in octave and developed in sestet. But no such categorical division noted in Wyatt’s sonnet. The conflicting state of the lover’s mind is expressed throughout the sonnet. The lines are not written in strict iambic pentameters (that is, ten syllables per line with a pattern of stress) and the rhyme scheme, although it conforms to a Petrarchan sonnet in the octave with its rhyme scheme of abbaabba, varies in the sestet becoming cddcdd as opposed to ccdeed. The rhymes, particularly in the sestet, can be described as half rhymes, with "death" being made to rhyme with "strife" in the last two lines, perhaps indicating the disparity the speaker of the poem finds within himself in his divided state, as explored through the poem. Secondly like the Shakespearean sonnet the sonnet has a concluding couplet which is novel;
“Likewise displeaseth me both death and life,
And my delight is causer of this strife”
Thus the sonnet inspite of some deviation is a typical Elizabethan sonnet which expresses the effect of love on one who is terribly loosed by an inexplicable ecstasy. It well brings but the psychology of bewilderment of such a lover who is yet to be satisfied with his love of which he is, however, certain.