Thomas Wyatt - Whoso List to Hunt...



= ambassador to France & Italy for Henry VIII

= his cultural experiences abroad gave him insights into different forms of poetry which he adapted for English 

= poem inspired by Petrarch 

= rumours at the time imply he was in love with/a lover of Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII's second wife) 

= the poem is often considered to be about Anne 

= Petrarchan sonnet suggests themes of unattainable love & passion - he did not re-write Petrarch's poem, he adapted it

= poem gives him a platform to share his personal desires that he could not share otherwise 

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Who so list to hount I knowe where is an hynde

Modern paraphrase = whoever longs to hunt, I know the deer to pursue 

statement of conversation by speaker - almost a challenge to his friends? 

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Part One

Who so list to hount I knowe where is an hynde

But as for me, helas, I may no more;

The vayne travaill hath weried me so sore,

I ame of them that farthest cometh behind; 

Yet may I by no meanes, my weried mynde

Drawe from the Deere, but as she fleeth afore

Faynting I followe. I leve of therefore

Sithens in a nett I seke to hold the wynde.

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Part one - analysis

First part of sonnet = Octave, lays out the problem. The realisation that he cannot attain this woman. 

Extended metaphor of "hynde" / deer = heightens the speakers thrill of the chase, shows men as a predator (their position in society) 

Use of personal pronoun = shows his personal experience with the woman/ personal suffering of not attaining the woman

Semantic field of dispair = "helas," he has given up & others can chase her instead 

Alliteration "fleeth afore faynting I followe" = the deer is powerful, emphasises his loss 

Metaphor "sithens in a nett I seke to hold the wynde" = emphasises the impossibility of attaining the woman 

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Part Two

Who so list her hount, I put him owte of dowbte, 

As well as I may spend his tyme in vain.

And graven with Diamondes in letters plain

There is written her faier neck rounde abowte:

'Noil me tangere for Cesars I ame

And wylde for to hold though I seme tame.'

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Part two - analysis

Second part of stanza - Sestet = accepts defeat, confirms the solution is to give up. Rhyme scheme changes in seset, shows a frustrated structure

"Who so list her hount, I put him owte of dowbte," = near repitition to the first line, chasing the deer is futile, emphasised by the repitition of "vain"

"Noil me tangere" = translates to 'do not touch me' Christ like qualities, after Jesus told a woman after he was resurrected to do not touch him

"wylde for to hold though I seme tame" = paradox, cannot be wild & tame, cannot catch the deer?

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Ending ideas/themes

  • Love as a sport
  • False hopes in love
  • Lust as a priority & love as imperfect
  • Love as pain
  • Love as reckless
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