Monday, January 3, 2011

Whoso List to Hunt

There's just something about poetry - it can say so much and yet so little at the same time. It is blatant, to the point, and metaphorical. It is a complex and yet beautifully simple form of art.

I adore poetry and yet it is not something that I frequently read. But with a snowstorm heading towards my town, the fireplace roaring, and coffee in hand (yes, at 10:30 PM), I've fallen into a poetry kind of mood.

I still have my Introduction to Poetry 101 textbook from university. Post-it notes jut out between the covers, the spine is creased, pages have fallen out, and it has seen a few good highlighters. And my favourite poem within the anthology? Let's just say it looks well-loved... I never said I was kind to my books.

Written in 1557 by Sir Thomas Wyatt, "Whoso List to Hunt" is one of my favourite pieces of poetry. I remember reading Wyatt's work for the first time when I was seventeen... The poem combines my love for literature, Europe, and history all within beautiful prose. I was instantly hooked.

What is "Whoso List to Hunt"? It is an echo of an historical time era. It is unrequited love. It is a classic and, above all, a haunting tale.

"Whoso List To Hunt" -- Sir Thomas Wyatt, 1557
100 Great Poets of the English Language (Gioia, p 18)

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, alas, 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,
Since 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."


  1. I remember this one from Ms. Winter's class! (even in between all the notes/pictures that were exchanged :p)

  2. :) I remember it from then too... and I still have that Johnny with a top hat picture somewhere ;)

  3. This is a poem that has stuck with me for awhile, especially the necklace around the hind's neck. Beautiful poem!

  4. Thanks for visiting, Red! I agree, the ending of the poem is so memorable.


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