Wait a minute, there's no art in "Whoso List to Hunt" you say? Oh contraire, it's there alright, "graven" in "plain" sight. Well, maybe it's not that "plain," but art is definitely a theme in this poem. The last four lines talk about a piece of writing; writing is art. Need more proof? The poem is a loose imitation of a very famous poem (Sonnet 190) by the Italian poet Petrarch, so in some ways this poem is also a reflection on the sonnet itself as an art form and on being a poet writing in the wake of an acknowledged master.
Questions About Art and Culture
What is the point of imitating another poet? How do you think Wyatt might answer that question?
What is the effect or purpose of the diamonds? Are they an artsy gem? How can you tell?
Can art be a way to disguise things? Is it possible to talk about scandalous or sensitive things by making them into art? How might the speaker answer these questions?
Chew on This
Art is everywhere (so watch your step). Even something as simple as a label indicating ownership ("I am Caesar's") involves some art (it is "graven" with diamonds).
Give it up, gang. True artistic originality is a pipe dream. "Whoso List to Hunt," for example, is based on a poem written by Petrarch and makes use of common literary symbols.