Explications of Whoso List to Hunt

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Whoso list to hunt is a fourteen line poem which follows a strict rhythmic pattern of “abba abba cddc ee”, has an iambic pentameter and therefore is known as a sonnet. It is not just any type of sonnet, but actually a Petrarchan sonnet. The sonnet is constructed by an octave, which are two quatrains combined then a sestet following after that. It was one of the thirty sonnets written by Sir Thomas Wyatt, and was believed to be written for Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII and the woman he broke out of the Catholic Church for in order to marry. Since she was involved with Henry VIII, the poem is a warning to stay away from her due to the fact that she already has come to the attention of the king. Whoso list to hunt means ‘whoever wishes’ to hunt. The hind, which in order words can be referred to as a female deer of the hunt is an obvious reference to Anne Boleyn. He talks about how he wishes to “hunt and catch” her. He demonstrates aspects of the “Code of Chivalry” expressing knighthood qualities such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and respect when pursuing her. The sonnet voices Wyatt’s surrender to the one he loves. His pursuit, though long and tedious, has brought him to the conclusion that the woman he loves, Anne Boleyn is incapable of showing love with lifelong companionship and he compares her to the hind. As far as beauty is concerned, the hind is matchless and irresistibly tempting, but on the other hand it is incapable of understanding love and loyalty. It may be bought but can never be made to love its master. Captivity is rather against its nature. It loves to be free which somewhat reflects Anne’s flirtatious nature. The pursuit of her troubles Wyatt so much to the point that he seems to have had enough, and seeing that many other suitors seem ahead of him in the chase, mainly King Henry VIII, he decides to give up: “But as for me, allas! I may no more. The vain travail hath worried me so sore, I am of them that furthest come behind.”...
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