Poem introduction

'Whoso list to hunt' – this poem is a translation or at least a version of a sonnet by Petrarch; Wyatt was writing at a time when the pentameter was still being regularised, and for that reason there is a beautiful counterpoint in his verse, almost as if a prose rhythm and a verse rhythm were working against each other. And I think that's why I love his sonnets so much.

Whoso list to hunt

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 furthest come 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,
Since 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.' 

Recordings

Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt read by Alice Oswald

1Behold Love

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2What vaileth Truth

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3The Longe Love that in my Thought

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4Whoso list to hunt

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5Help me to seke

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7I abide and abide

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6My lute awake

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8Stond who so list

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