Recovering the Text of Wyatt's "Disdain me not without desert"
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Wyatt's "Disdain me not without desert", occurs in three sixteenth century sources. One of these, which is the best known, is Songes and Sonettes, printed by Richard Tottel in 1557, popularly referred to as "Tottel's Miscellany". It is the only text which credits Wyatt with authorship of the poem. On the whole, scholars have faith in Tottel's attributions, and there is really no good reason for doubting that the poem is Wyatt's. The state of the text, however, gives some cause for concern. If one compares versions of Wyatt's poems as found in Tottel's text (T) with those which occur in the most authoritative manuscript (which, indeed, contains poems in Wyatt's own hand), viz. MS. Egerton 2711 in the British Library, one is struck by T's departures from the Egerton manuscript (E). These departures in T do not seem to be accidental. On the contrary, many of the poems in T appear to be clearly derived from E or a source very much like that, but have been subjected to a process of editorial revision.