Thomas Wyatt, "They Flee From Me"
Set of Multiple-choice Questions Analyzing a Poem
Sir Thomas Wyatt's sixteenth-century lyric "They flee from me" is an enigmatic poem that pleases at least partly because it provides no final certainty about the situation it describes. Yet the poem, while in some respects indefinite and puzzling, is nevertheless quite specific in its presentation of a situation, particularly in the second stanza, and it treats a recognizable human experience--that of having been forsaken by a lover--in an original and intriguing fashion.
They flee from me, that sometime did me seek
with naked foot stalking in jay chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek
That now are wild, and do not remember
(5) That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand: and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
Thanked be fortune it bath been otherwise
Twenty times better, but once in special,
(10) 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, *
Therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, 'Dear heart, how like you this?'
(15) It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking,
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also to use newfangleness.
(20) But since that I so kindly am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved.
*manner or style
The image developed in the first stanza is especially striking, with its suggestion of once tame and friendly animals who have reverted to wildness and will no longer risk the seemingly innocent taking of bread from the speaker's hand. This stanza establishes at once the theme... [continues]
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