Study Guide

Whoso List to Hunt Lust

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Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, alas, I may no more. (1-2)

For some reason, the speaker is bowing out of the lust game. He encourages others to go after the deer, though. It's almost like he's the ringleader of some club devoted to lust and sexual deviance.

Yet may I, by no means, my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. (5-7)

The speaker's lust is like an addiction he can't control. He just told us he's giving up, but we learn that he is unable to "draw" his mind away from the deer. The fact that the deer is fleeing makes us think of the speaker as a total creeper who won't leave her alone.

I leave off, therefore,
Since in a net I seek to hold the wind. (7-8)

Oh, the speaker's lust isn't so bad; he just wants to hold the wind in a net. Not. Using a net to capture something is a form of controlling something; when it comes to people, that is no bueno. Lust is a kind of domination.

"Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame." (13-14)

Why the Latin anyway? Well, the deer's sign says "touch me not," which we can't help thinking refers to some kind of sexual touching. Perhaps the Latin is meant to "soften" the dirtiness of this part by making it more "intellectual."

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