whoso list

Topics: Poetry, Sonnet, Iambic pentameter Pages: 3 (511 words) Published: April 22, 2015
Olivia Hester
Dr. Julia Griffin
British Literature I
March 12, 2015

Whoso list to hunt:
Stalking vs. Admiring

“Whoso list to hunt” is a Petrarch sonnet with fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter. It follows an abbaabba cddc ee rhyme scheme (Wyatt 649) instead of traditional Petrarch rhyme scheme of abbaabba cde cde (Petrarch 337). Wyatt’s poem is loosely based off of Petrarch’s original sonnet “Una candida cerva”. Both sonnets are about unattainable women and use the allusion of a doe to describe their encounter. In both poems the doe is adorned with jewels around its neck marking it as someone else’s. With that being said, the similarities between the two poems end there. Wyatt and Petrarch have different motives for following the doe. Wyatt sees the doe as a challenge and even challenges the reader by saying “Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind” (Wyatt 649) whereas Petrarch is enchanted saying “Her look so sweet and proud that to follow her I left every task” (Petrarch 650). The motives for following the doe change the entire tone of the poem. To hunt something is to eventually capture it and even destroy it while following something, though creepy, is not harmful. It is much like the difference between plucking a rose and admiring it on the bush. Not only does Wyatt hunt the doe but he also issues a challenge for anyone else that cares to hunt creating a dangerous atmosphere for her. In Petrarch’s sonnet the narrator follows the doe until he “fell into the water, and she disappeared” (Petrarch 650) while Wyatt’s narrator never surrenders the hunt but does state “for me, helas! I may no more” (Wyatt 649). The momentary surrender is what defines Wyatt’s poem by giving it an undertone of ineffectiveness and foreshadowing the fact that he will never possess the doe. Wyatt’s doe is also “wild to hold, though I seem tame” (649) solidifying the fact that he will never hold her, possess her, or own her. The narrator in “Whoso list to...

Cited: Wyatt, Thomas. “Whoso list to hunt”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. Vol I. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. 649. Print
Petrarch, Rima. “Una candida cerva”. Petrarch’s Lyric poems. Robert M. Durling. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press., 1976. Print
Petrarch, Rima, Trans. Egerton Manuscript. “Una candida cerva”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. Vol I. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. 649. Print
David, Alfred, and James Simpson. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. Vol I. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. 649. Print
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