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E211 Fall 2010 Students' Blog

Reid Blasier on Sir Thomas Wyatt's "Whoso List to Hunt"

Published by admin_main on Tue 28 Sep, 2010

Outline for Wyatt's "Whoso list to hunt" comparison of Original and Modern Translation. Questions 8-9.

Henry the 8th was known for his role in the separating England from the Roman Catholic Church. He dissolved monasteries, and executed clergy and citizens who stood in his way. He was also acclaimed for his handsomeness and promiscuity with women. Over the course of his rule he gained six marriages and executed the majority of his divorcee's. One such important figure was his 2nd queen, Anne Boleyn, who plays a major role in the meaning and symbolism, as the hind, behind Sir Thomans Wyatt's "Whoso List to Hunt". I also will talk of Cesar's hinds whom he apparently spared the plight of a usual deer by adorning them with necklaces saying "Noli me tangere"(595) or "let no one touch me."

Next to discuss the more obvious physical differences between Wyatt's "Hind" and Petrarch's "Doe" For example Petrarch more lavishly describes the doe with such beautiful imagery as a "white" doe with "two golden horns."(595) Petrarch also describes the deer with such amorous acclaim as having a, " …look so sweet and proud, that to follow her I left every task…"(595) In Wyatt's version however, he speaks of her more glumly comparing attempting to catch her using, " Since in a net I seek to hold wind."(595) He does however use fond language in describing, " her fair neck round about."(595) which is only alluding to the diamond necklace she wears that essentially says "don't touch."

At this point I will introduce Sir Thomas Wyatt's supposed relationship with Anne Boleyn as he and Henry VIII were vying for her hand around the same time. Also about Wyatt's arrest due to suspected adultery with her. (Although he was later acquitted many were not so lucky including Anne Boleyn.)

Next to describe the difference in attitude of the speakers. It seems in Wyatt's original that a feeling of despair and hopelessness is abundant in his language. He seems to be so distanced from his reason and logic as though he has realized his plight and is full of despair and depression. He also describes the hopelessness of attempting to catch the Hind by the last line. (The description of it being "wild to hold, though I seem tame."(595)) Petrarch's version is far more lighthearted and joyful describing her with much adoration and beauty. He uses bright imagery and descriptive, vivid landscape to details which give the reader a more close sense of the "doe's" tangibility. Also as he describes the doe in the conclusion of the sonnet with almost boyish admiration. He describes his eyes as "tired from looking but not sated"(Bottom 595) Then as he dips in the water his mind is free of her. Petrarch seems to brighten up the idea of love and uses a far less pained point of view on the chase of a woman who seems intangible. However it seems that Wyatt's original intentions, given the context of his apparent involvement with Anne Boleyn at the time, is one of more sadness and longing for the ability to catch the untouchable. It does seem however that in Wyatt's version he is much more despondent and glum about his plight of chasing one of Caesar's hinds. His use of, "Since in a net I seek to hold the wind."(595) gives the reader a clear viewpoint into Wyatt's overall feelings about the tangibility of his "Hind". Also the comparison between the endings when Petrarch's doe simply disappears and Wyatt uses more simple language describing the Hind as, "And wild to hold, though I seem tame."(595)

If I were to attempt to decide which of these poems I most admire it would have to be compromising on both. Although firstly i enjoyed Petrarch's version for its simplicity of language and depth of meaning it seems that I can not help but be drawn by Wyatt's complexity in language and overall demising attitude. It seems that Wyatt is attempting to more cleverly conceal his hind and use language that will allow him to conceal his true pain. It seems as though Wyatt wants the reader to know the pain he feels and his language is an attempt to conceal his true hurt which is the longing for Anne Boleyn. The difference however is that Petrarch never really alludes to the intangibility of the doe. So we really do not get much of a sense of hurt or pain that is being caused by chasing this doe. With Wyatt he seems in almost a fit of desperation and depression as he describes this arduous task of moving past this Hind who he so badly desires.

Works Cited:

Wyatt, Sir Thomas, and Anonymous. "Who so List to Hunt." The Norton Anthology of English literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead, Kurt Wildermuth, and Eileen Connell.N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

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