Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, is never named in this poem—not even once. So why are we insisting that the poem is somehow about her? Well, check out all of the allusions to things that seem to have a heckuva lot to do with myths of Diana. (Want to know more about mythology? Check out all sorts of Shmoop takes on myths here.) Why Diana? Well, for one thing, she's the one goddess who doesn't seem to care much about anything but her own desires: hunting, running wild, loving animals, and, above all, saying chaste (sexually pure). So, when she goes out hunting and love is in the mix, things get complicated. One of the main refrains in myths about Diana goes something like this: Man sees Diana. Man falls in love. Diana slays man. It's a pretty gruesome picture, actually. But hey—a lady's gotta do what she's gotta do, and it's not like Diana never intended to settle down and hang out in front of a hearth fire.
Line 4: Diana is typically pictured with hounds and deer at her side—especially when she's out hunting.
Lines 5-9, 16-19, 26-29: Describing the "merry deer" makes the speaker seem like she appreciates animals. Just check out the other descriptions of deer (hint: there's a bunch). Diana, as it turns out, is the Roman goddess who cares for animals.
Line 9: Bugles are another reference to hunting, and by extension Diana.
Line 20: If you check out the image of Diana in our "Best of the Web" section, you'll notice what she has at her side: a sling full of arrows—her weapon of choice.
Line 29: A "lucky hunter"? That sounds an awful lot like Diana.
Line 34: Who is killed at the end of the hunt? And how is Diana, the goddess of chastity, in love? That's a big question, but luckily for you we tackle it in our "Speaker" section.