Study Guide

Whoso List to Hunt Hunting

By Sir Thomas Wyatt

Hunting

Well, hunting is in the title of the poem, and it's all over the poem too—literally everywhere. But this isn't a poem about going out and shootin' something for dinner. No, no, no—it's about hunting a woman (not literally of course). It's about chasing a girl in a romantic and sexual kind of way, with the catch that the girl belongs to somebody else (gasp). The speaker is trying to stop hunting her, but something about her is making that really impossible. He encourages others to try (which seems kind of mean), and tells them they'll fail as well. She's too wild, just like a deer.

  • Lines 1-2: The speaker opens by saying he knows where there is a hind. This might be useful info for those who "list" to hunt. He, unfortunately, may no longer hunt. He's not talking about actual hunting, or an actual deer. This whole business is a metaphor for chasing a girl. Note also the alliteration with the H and M words here ("hunt" and "hind," "may" and "more").
  • Lines 3-4: The "vain travail" of hunting has really worn the speaker out. He now can't keep up with the hunting party. (The comparison is with a hunt that involves several groups. The speaker is in the last one.) This bit about being the "farthest behind" continues the hunting metaphor of the first two lines, so this is definitely an extended metaphor.
  • Lines 5-7: The speaker continues to describe his difficulties. He simply cannot take ("draw") his eyes away from the "deer." He keeps following her, "fainting." This is the same metaphor we have seen throughout the first few lines. These lines are also full of F word alliteration ("farthest," "fleeth," "fainting").
  • Lines 7-8: The speaker quits chasing the girl. He's not really trying to net the wind, so this is another metaphor for chasing a girl. Actually, there are two metaphors here. One compares chasing a girl to using a net, while the other compares the woman to the wind, a figure that emphasizes the difficulty of capturing this "wild" animal of a woman. There's lots of alliteration here as well (with those F and S words—not the naughty kind).
  • Lines 9-10: The poem's first line is echoed here as the speaker again deploys the metaphor of hunting. The speaker also again emphasizes the pointlessness of trying to catch this "deer."
  • Lines 13-14: The sign on the "deer" says she belongs to Caesar and that, even though she seems tame, she's definitely wild. There are no specific references to hunting, but the woman-as-deer is part of the whole hunting thing. This metaphor just won't go away.

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