I shared this poem about three years ago… I still count it as one of my favourites, and Sir Thomas Wyatt one of my favourite poets!
I love this poem, its imagery of deer fleeing at the sound of the hunter, deer which may once have been tame and came to take bread from his hand, is so vivid. The description of the lover disrobing his lady is so gently and subtly erotic… how many writers and poets would wish to have his skill…
… and he is – or rather was, Sir Thomas Wyatt; he was born in Kent, England, and was an ambassador to France and Italy for King Henry VIII. He was a handsome, strikingly handsome man, well over six-foot tall. Rumour had it that he was the lover of Anne Boleyn’s lover and in fact he did spend a month in the Tower of London prior to Anne’s execution for adultery. He died at the young age of thirty-nine.
He wrote other poems about hunting, ‘Whoso list to hunt’ was may have been written for Anne; I don’t know which beautiful lady this one is about:
They flee from me
by Sir Thomas WyattThey flee from me that sometime did me seekWith naked foot, stalking in my chamber.I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,That now are wild and do not rememberThat sometime they put themself in dangerTo take bread at my hand; and now they range,Busily seeking with a continual change.Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwiseTwenty 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;Therewithall sweetly did me kissAnd softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”It was no dream: I lay broad waking.But all is turned thorough my gentlenessInto 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 kindly am servedI would fain know what she hath deserved.