Explain the poem "They Flee From Me" by Thomas Wyatt illustrating what might be an effective thesis for an essay.

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Sir Thomas Wyatt lived in the times of Henry VIII.  The life at court was somewhat promiscuous.  Henry the king did not set a very good example.  Even when he was happily married, his shenanigans usually cost someone his/her head. 

Not to be outdone in trysts, Wyatt was equally sexually driven.  He divorced his first wife for adultery.  He was imprisoned for arguing with one of the king's favorites.  Then, it was rumored that Wyatt had been one of Anne Boleyn's lovers [Doubtful, he was not stupid.], and was in the Tower and saw Boleyn executed.  That might get a person's attention.

This sets the scene for his poem "They Flee From Me." Published after his death, the poem tackles the subject of sex outside of marriage.  The narrator is probably the poet himself speaking about the sexual nature of life at King Henry's court.

Actually, the poet tells the reader less than nothing about himself.  The conclusions that can be drawn are that he is confused about why he no longer has a woman in his bed.  He has been quite the lover, but now he is  intrigued by this one particular woman who is likes she has left him as well.

Ruminating about all of his sexual encounters, he especially was taken by one memory  that was immensely pleasurable.

When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
And therewith all sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, "Dear heart, how like you this?"

When this beautiful woman loved him, it was no dream. She has forsaken him and looks to others for her pleasure.  

His primary quandary is where have these women gone. Once his paramours stalked him, ate with him, loved him. Now, they only want change.  Why they no longer come to him disturbs him greatly.  

To write about this poem in a critical analysis, one might use these statements as potential arguments:

  • Thomas Wyatt in his poem "They Flee From Me" speaks to lovers who have been left behind.
  • The poem "They Flee From Me" by Thomas Wyatt represents the inherent sexuality found in the court of King Henry VIII.
  • The poem "They Flee From Me" by Wyatt portrays women as sexual objects.

Any of these sentences could be used as a foundation for a critical analysis of the poem.


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