This bitter poem of betrayed love may not have quite the same force as Wyatt’s masterpiece, ‘They Flee From Me That Sometime Did Me Seek’, or Donne’s ‘The Apparition’ (let’s face it, Elizabethan poets didn’t have much luck when it came to finding a nice steady girl) but it shares the same quality of a speaking voice, direct and passionate, straining at the seams of the convention that contains it.
Quondam Was I
Quondam was I in my lady’s grace,
I think as well as now be you;
And when that you have trad the trace,
Then shall you know my words be true
That quondam was I.
Quondam was I. She said forever:
That lasted but a short while;
Promise made not to dissever.
I thought she laugh’d – she did but smile,
Then quondam was I.
Quondam was I: he that full oft lay
In her arms with kisses many one.
It is enough that this I may say
Though among the moo now I be gone,
Yet quondam was I.
Quondam was I. Yet she will you tell
That since the hour she first was born
She never loved none half so well
As you. But what altho she had sworn,
Sure quondam was I.
Sir Thomas Wyatt