SONNET Sir Thomas Wyatt – Whoso list to hunt

Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard have written the same genre, it called the ‘lyric verse’ or the sonnet, which means in French “little song”. Wyatt and Surrey have the sonnet both adapted from Petrarch. Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard were the First English poets to write in the sonnet form that Shakespeare later used. They are known as “fathers of the English Sonnet.”
The Petrarch-sonnets included two parts. First, the octave, which describe a problem, followed by a sestet, which gives the resolution to it. This kind of poetry is the most popular verse in the Western literature.

Now, I will tell something about the sonnet of Thomas Wyatt, which called ‘Whoso list to hunt’. In this sonnet are used old English words, like whoso list, hélas, vain travail and sithens. Moreover, noli me tangere is a Latin phrase in this text. This makes it more difficult to understand the sonnet.

1 Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
2 But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
3 The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
4 I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
5 Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
6 Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
7 Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
8 Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.

9 Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
10 As well as I may spend his time in vain.
11 And graven with diamonds in letters plain
12 There is written, her fair neck round about:
13 Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am,
14 And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

The writer tells in the first part of this sonnet that he hunts on a woman, but he can’t get her because he’s possession of the King. In this first part he describes that he had tried everything, but he isn’t still successful. The writer gives up, because everything is in vain. He is powerless.
In the second part of this sonnet, the writer has found a solution for his problem. He tells everyone that hunting to that woman is wasting time, because she wears a diamond on her neck with the words: Noli me tangere. It means: don’t touch me; I’m possession of the King. So he warns everyone not to spend their time in vain. It’s not always what it seems.
You can see in the forth phrase that the writer is complaining, this is one of the most important things from the sonnets of Petrarch.


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