Thomas Wyatt was a courtier for Henry VIII of England. He did much traveling and became acquainted with the Italian poet Petrarch. Petrarch is known for developing the Italian sonnet. When Wyatt returned to England, he began to adapt some of Petrrach's poetry into English. Thus, he became the first Englishman to write a sonnet. He never published his poems, so many of them have been lost or were modified by subsequent publishers. His most famous poem, "Whoso List to Hunt", is believed to be a veiled love poem about Anne Boleyn, the woman for whom Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church in order to marry. Since she was involved with Henry VIII, the poem is an admonition to stay away from her because she already has come to the attention of the king. Besides sonnets, Wyatt also wrote many lyrics to English dance songs but none of his work was published until 15 years after his death.
Critical analysis of the Wyatt’s poem
Whoso list to hunt ? ……..
This is the best sonnet ever written by the poet. He uses an extended imagery of hunting in this sonnet under consideration. The sonnet voices’s the lover surrender. His pursuit, long and tedious, has brought him to the conclusion that his mistress in incapable of requiting loves with life long companionship and he compares her to the hind. As far as the beauty is concerned hind is matchless and irresistibly tempting. But on the other hand it is incapable of understanding love and loyalty. It may be possessed but never made to love its master. Captivity is rather against its nature. It loves to be free and have its own.
In the present case the hind was not so lucky. It was captured by the KING HENRY VIII worst of the hunters. The line ‘noli me tangere for Caesar Iam, alludes to the king whose mistress was Wyatt’s sweat heart. Henry married her and a year later got her executed on the charges of disloyalty and treason, a mistress may be loyal and obedient but she is not bound by the bonds of marriage to stay with her love .The sonnet was written before HENRY VIII married Anne Boleyn. She was king’s mistress tame but free till the king married her.
The beloved under consideration is loyal to none. The poet did his best to occupy her exclusively but was eventually driven to the sad conclusion that it was impossible. The octet opens with a sort of open invitation to hunters who wants to capture a hind. The poets or lover admits his own failure but he attributes this failure to fickleness of the beloved who is as inconstant as the wind. He says that he is not one of those best hunters who easily give up.
The sestet contains a warning for those hunters who may undertake to hunt this particular hind. He says she is wild although she seems tame. Very beautifully he says to capture her is just like to hold the wind in a net which is of course impossible. The sonnet reflects a mood of bitter dejection and absolute despair.