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Short poem

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

Whoso List to Hunt, I Know where is an Hind

              1Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
              2But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
              3The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
              4I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
              5Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
              6Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
              7Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
              8Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
              9Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
            10As well as I may spend his time in vain.
            11And graven with diamonds in letters plain
            12There is written, her fair neck round about:
            13Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
            14And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.


1] The source of the poem is perhaps Petrarch's 190th (157th) sonnet (Mestica, 270), but referring to Anne Boleyn, thought to have been Wyatt's mistress before Henry VIII wed her.

Una candida cerva sopra l' erba
Verde m' apparve, con duo corna d' oro,
Fra due riviere, a l' ombra d' un alloro,
Levando 'l sole, a la stagione acerba.
Era sua vista sí dolce superba,
Ch' i' lasciai, per seguirla, ogni lavoro;
Come l' avaro, che 'n cercar tesoro
Con diletto l' affanno disacerba.
"Nessun mi tocchi," al bel collo dintorno
Scritto avea di diamenti e di topazi;
"Libera farmi al mio Cesare parve."
Ed era 'l sol già vòlto al mezzo giorno,
Gli occhi miei stanchi di mirar, non sazi;
Quand' io caddi ne l' acqua, ed ella sparve.
Whoso list: whoever wishes.
hind: female deer.

2] hélas: alas.

3] vain travail: futile labour.

6] deer: playing on the word "dear."

8] Sithens: Since
in a net I seek to hold the wind: proverbial (Tilley W416).

13] Noli me tangere: "touch me not," a phrase from the Vulgate. See Christ's words to Mary Magdalene in the garden after his resurrection: "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: British Library Egerton MS. 2711, fol. 7v; cf. Richard Harrier, Canon (1975): 104-05.
First publication date: 1815
Publication date note: First published in Nott's Works of Surrey and Wyatt, 1815.
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger, Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RP 1963: I.3 (F. D. Hoeniger); RPO 1994 (IL).
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/1

Form: sonnet
Rhyme: abbaabbacddcee

Other poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt