The Fight for Control
It is human nature to want what we can’t have. It is hard to come by a person who is completely satisfied with his or her belongings because in most cases, there is always that longing for more. Not only is it an inclination to want what we can’t have, but we also idealize the unattainable. “The grass is always greener on the other side,” is a common phrase for a reason. Sir Thomas Wyatt’s poem, Whoso List to Hunt, is a classic poem of a man idealizing a woman he can’t have. The sky is the limit for society’s desires.
Whoso List to Hunt is a poem about Wyatt longing for a woman rumored to be Anne Boleyn. He refers to his attempts to swoon Boleyn as a “hunt” because in the fifteenth century, men did not only hunt solely to put food on the table to provide for their families. Especially in the case of Wyatt because he was a courtier of rank and not a peasant, he hunted for the thrill of the chase. But although Wyatt speaks of the hunt for Boleyn favorably, he claims to have become weary of the chase and he can no longer keep up with his comrades. “I am of them the farthest cometh behind.” (4) He longs to trap Boleyn, but he knows he will not win and is wasting his time as well as any other courtier after her. Wyatt foresees his loss because Boleyn has set her eyes on a bigger prize, the King of England, and has attracted the king’s attention as well. “Touch me not, for Caesar’s I am.” (13) Leaving Wyatt in the dust although he still lusts for her.
Author Michael McCanles believes he knows the common theme of Wyatt’s writing: the idealization of a woman, the woman being fantasied must be powerful and unattainable, the woman enslaves him through his lust for her, and he bitterly plots for revenge when he realizes his attempts for her admiration are futile. While there are many aspects from Whoso List to Hunt in these common themes, there are exceptions as well to McCanles’ theory of Wyatt. McCanles states that, “ When a woman gets a...
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