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"Whoso List To Hunt"

by
Sir Thomas Wyatt
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hlas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

Whoso list: whoever wishes
hind: female deer
hlas: alas
vain travail: futile labor
deer: playing on the word "dear"
Sithens: since
Noli me tangere: "touch me not"


Sir Thomas Wyatt
The following message, posted by David Florkow on a university message
board, pretty much encapsulates everything I've found on the subject of
"Whoso List to Hunt":
"Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 1542) is known, if at all nowadays, for introducing the Italian
sonnet form (as used by Petrarch particularly) into English usage. Many of his best
poems (such as "Whoso list to hunt") are imitations of Petrarch (in this case, most likely
Petrarch's 190th sonnet).

"He was a diplomat in the service of Henry VIII, traveling to Italy, France and Spain.
Wyatt was imprisoned for his affair with Anne Boleyn, and imprisoned a second time for
treason after the fall of Cromwell.

"I like this poem for the way Wyatt expresses personal disappointment and weariness in
the great chase, while still admiring a quarry that has both eluded him and is now
possessed by a greater man (Caesar). All in sonnet form. The poet tells of his weariness
in hunting a female deer (hind). He asserts that he is not giving up, just falling further
behind; his wearied mind is still game. But as she continues to flee, he finally leaves off,
recognizing his hunt to be as fruitless as seeking to catch the wind in a net. And he
counsels others similarly inclined that they would be spending their time in vain.

Of course, there is more than hunting deer going on here, and the imagery and the
vocabulary take a turn for the more personal in the last four lines. For this fleeing
female wears around her fair neck a necklace with diamonds spelling out the last couplet
of the poem: a phrase from the Vulgate: 'touch me not', for I belong to Caesar (or Henry
VIII, as the case may be).

"The wonderful final line captures both the passion and the yoked submission suggested
by the diamond necklace, both of great interest to the speaker, who can appreciate both
but enjoy neither. David."

Note from Nell Gavin:
The word "fleeth" (meaning "to flee"), used in the sonnet, suggests Anne did not entirely
welcome Wyatt's attentions, and some of her contemporaries confirmed it. This is
important because Anne Boleyn was found guilty of adultery and executed for it. Thomas
Wyatt was one of the men she was accused of having been with, and history has
speculated on this ever since. In either event, no one was able to provide substantiated
proof that Anne Boleyn ever committed adultery or had a pre-marital affair with Thomas
Wyatt, or with anyone else. That one word in this poem might validate her claims of
innocence.


They Flee from Me
a poem by Thomas Wyatt
They Flee from Me
Thomas Wyatt
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle tame and meek
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, Dear heart, how like you this?

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindely am served,
I would fain(willingly-with pleasure) know what she hath deserved.
They Flee from Me
Thomas Wyatt

HE long love that in my thought I
harbour,
And in mine heart doth keep his
re-
sidence,
Into my face presseth with bold pretence,
And therein campeth displaying his banner.
She that me learneth to love and to suffer,
And wills that my trust, and lust's negligence
Be reined by reason, shame, and reverence,
With his hardiness takes displeasure.
Wherewith love to the heart's forest he fleeth,
Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry,
And there him hideth, and not appeareth.
What may I do, when my master feareth,
But in the field with him to live and die?
For good is the life, ending faithfully.