1ff. A 1542 oil portrait exists, attributed to Holbein (after this poem the book includes a woodcut of this portrait, reversed). The ca. 1535 chalk portrait used on the title page of this edition is also by Holbein.
5 Addressed to Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey [1517 - 1547]. His poem praised by Leland is On the Death of Sir Thomas Wyatt.
16ff. In October 1542 Wyatt was appointed by the Privy Council to meet the Spanish ambassador Montmorency de Courrière at Falmouth, and on this journey contracted his fatal fever. He was familiar to the Spanish because he had served as English ambassador to the Spanish court of the emperor Charles V from 1537 to 1540.
20f. In Wyatt’s time, due to the small size of ocean-going ships and its unsilted condition, Falmouth Harbor could receive international shipping. Having met the French ambassador there, Wyatt died a e t the home of Sir John Horsey in Sherborne, Dorset. The town was named scir burne (“clear stream”) by the Saxons, and had been the capital of Wessex (Ethelbert and Ethelbald, elder brothers of King Alfred, are buried at Sherborne Abbey), and had been an episcopal see before the bishop’s seat was removed to Old Sarum. (I am indebted to John Chandler for pointing out that Sherborne is meant in this section).
38 Granta is another name for the river Cam (Leland and Wyatt were contemporaries at Cambridge, although they did not belong to the same college).
42 The shield with which Ajax is equipped in the Iliad.
52 His friend and neighbor, Thomas Poynings of Kent.
53 The courtier Sir George Blage (who kept a manuscript, now owned by Trinity College, Dublin, which is an important source for Wyatt’s poetry).
54 Sir John Mason, who had been King’s Scholar prior to entering into Wyatt’s service as a diplomat.
62ff. In the first lines Leland refers to Catullus iii and to the poet Stella, memorialized at Martial I.vii.
75 Wyatt had had military experience, beginning at the time he fought the forces of Lambert Simnel under Henry VII, at the battle of Stoke-on-Trent. In 1513 he was knighted on the field after the battle of Spurs in France.
80 Rara avis in terris is of course a quote from Juvenal vi.165.
88ff. Wyatt had acquired a property at Montacute, Somersetshire, which he bequeathed to his son Thomas but did not himself have time to occupy before his death. For a description, see Camden’s Britannia (1607) for Somersetshire.
96f. Wyatt’s family seat was Allington Castle, Kent.
98 For the significance of this poem, see the next note.
103 For some unknown reason, Leland was of the opinion that Alaunodunum (which he etymologized as “Castle Alaunia”) was the ancient name of Maidenhead, Berks., in the Wye valley. I do not know what connection Wyatt, had with that place. Did Leland imagine that the surname “Wyatt” was derived from the Wye river? (In fact it comes from the A. S. personal name Wigheard, from wig “war” and heard “hardy.”) Or did Wyatt own property there too?
110f. This couplet is interesting in that it shows Leland regarded the writing of English poetry as the special province of the nobility. He was doubtless thinking primarily (although not necessarily exclusively) of Surrey.
122ff. For the Emperor Charles’ familiarity with Wyatt, see the note on 16ff.
152 Cirrha or Cyrrha was the port of Delphi. Sometimes the Roman poets used this word, by transference, to designate Delphi itself (see the Oxford Latin Dictionary entries for Cirrha and Cirrhaeus for exx.).