Study Guide

Whoso List to Hunt Lust

By Sir Thomas Wyatt

Lust

"Whoso List to Hunt" is a dirty, lascivious, um… dirty poem if we ever saw one. Sure, it's about hunting, but it's a very, ahem, sexual kind of hunting. Take the whole hunting metaphor; you hunt something with the intention of killing it, dominating it, controlling it. The idea is expressed pretty clearly when the speaker compares hunting the deer to trying to throw a net around the wind. Throw in that whole bit about "do not touch me" and this poem starts to look like a description of frustrated lust. And here you thought it was just about hunting.

Questions About Lust

  1. How bad or dirty is the speaker's lust, really?
  2. Could that part about touching in line 13 refer to just innocent touching, rather than sexual touching?
  3. Is the speaker really lustful? Or are his feelings deeper than that? How do you know?
  4. Why does the speaker encourage others to pursue their lust in the poem's first two lines?

Chew on This

The speaker is in denial about his lust—and we're not talkin' about a river in Egypt. That's why he tries to pass it off as just a kind of hunting.

Lust can be a violent business. The metaphor of hunting, for example, involves capture, domination, and killing. Yikes.

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