They Flee from Me
by Sir Thomas Wyatt
This guy's a total stud. Or at least he used to be. Now he's having a bit of a dry spell, and his dance card has gone empty, so to speak. But why?
Well, he seems a bit smitten with one woman in particular – the mysterious female of stanza two. She makes our previously bold, take-charge speaker go weak in the knees. In fact, this particular incident seems like a pretty important one, if we want to understand just what makes our speaker tick.
For one thing, it totally confuses him. He's bewildered by it. He even has to reassure himself (and us readers) that it wasn't a dream. He calls this woman's departure "strange" and basically cops to the fact that he has no idea, whatsoever, how to treat her, or how the world should treat her for that matter.
So we know our guy's confused, that he once was very promiscuous, and that he's a little bit smitten with one lady in particular. But is there anything else we might guess about this dude? Not much, as it turns out – not his name, age, or even what he looks like. But frankly, for this poem, none of that really matters. We've already got the essentials. For the issues of sexual politics that this poem raises, those are all you need to know.