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Whoso list to hunt: I know where is an hind.
But as for me, alas I may no more:
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain,
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written her fair neck round about:
'Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.'
The words "wild for to hold" definitely refer to the deer. Since the entire poem is (probably) an allegory referring to Anne Boleyn, the reference to a wild animal being "wild" is less obvious than it might at first appear. Anne, whom from all accounts was a very spirited woman, would have had to seem "tame" in the court of Henry VIII. The standards of conduct at the time required the ladies of the court to be extremely dignified in their bearing at all times. Wyatt, who would have known Boleyn at court, and may have even been her lover, might have known of Anne's true personality under the demure facade of a lady-in-waiting. Wyatt is saying that though Anne may have appeared to be a perfect lady, it is actually difficult to please her or to obtain her affections. This may well have been an actual personality trait of hers.
The line is indicative, possibly, of Anne's political ambitions in addition to her unladylike personality. Since she has, like the legendary white stags of Caesar, around her neck the proclamation of her ownership by the king, there is a possibility that Anne (the hind, a female deer) may have been proud of this, and resistant to other, lower-status lovers.
The Christian element, however, in this poem cannot be denied. The direct quotation from the Vulgate (Latin) bible, of Christ saying to Mary Magdelene "Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my father" is a clue. Wyatt was a skilled enough poet to create a poem that could be read entirely as a Christian, rather than a romantic, allegory. The hunter is the human sinner, and the "hind" is the Holy Spirit, or perhaps salvation, or perhaps Christ. The struggle to attain salvation by the human spirit can be likened to a hunt, with humanity longing for, and often failing to suceed to heaven. Therefore, the "hind", if it can be likened to Christian salvation, is difficult to attain and equally difficult to hold onto. Read in this way, the poem can be seen to have an orthodox religious message.
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