How might one interpret the poem "Your Looks So Often Cast,"by Sir Thomas Wyatt?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt that begins “Your eyes so often cast” might be interpreted as follows.

This is a poem in which a speaker addresses someone – perhaps even himself – and tells that person that the person’s sensual desires are plainly obvious, no matter how much the person tries to hide or disguise them. The impassioned person is, after all, constantly looking at the object of his desires (1-4). His

sight [is] fixed so fast,

Always one to behold . . . (3-4)

Even though the impassioned person tries to hide his passion, observers can clearly see who controls that person’s heart and for whom he cares (4-7). Apparently the impassioned person seeks to hide his desire either because he is ashamed of such desire or because he fears that the person he desires will reject him (or perhaps for both reasons).

The impassioned person wishes that he could hide the flames of his desire behind a metaphorical cloak, but the flames and smoke of his desires are obvious to anyone who looks at him (8-11). Passionate love cannot be controlled in such a way that it will not reveal itself (12-13). The passion that burns hotly within a person will openly reveal itself in some way (14-15). Because the impassioned person himself does not see clearly, he thinks that others are also blind (16-17). He thinks that he has managed to keep his passionate desires secret, even though they are obvious to anyone who looks at him (18-19).

The impassioned person often wastes his breath by sighing, thereby seeking to relieve his passions (20-21). Instead, however, sighs reveal who is afflicted by the sickness of passion (22-23). The impassioned person uses sighs to try to “wry” (that is, twist, contort, or disguise) his pain (24-25). These efforts, however, deceive no one (26-27). Likewise, although the impassioned person swears forcefully that he is not consumed by passion, his swearing is pointless since his passion is obvious (28-29).

Merely by looking at the impassioned person’s eyes, others can see who is the focus of his desires and causes him anguish (30-31). He should not therefore try to hide a passion that continually makes itself obvious (32-33). He should not try to hide a passion that is as obvious as the light of the sun and that is just as difficult to make obscure (34-35). He should put such pointless behavior behind him and should not try to disguise his emotions (36-37). There is no way to hide passion that is so plainly obvious (39-40)




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