There are rules for everything, Shmoopers: driving, relationships, Candyland—you name it. This also includes hunting, both actual hunting and the metaphorical hunting of "Whoso List to Hunt." The big no-no in this poem is the deer itself: it belongs to somebody else so everybody needs to keep their paws off, unless they want to suffer some serious consequences. But rules were meant to be broken, and the speaker really wants to break them. Well, he wants the deer—can't keep his eyes off her—but after a little back and forth decides to submit to the order of things.
Questions About Rules and Order
Is the speaker just acting like he intends to follow the rules? Is he maybe just doing this for appearance's sake? How can you tell?
Is it fair that the speaker isn't allowed to go after the hind? Why or why not?
Does the speaker seem at all angry about the rules he has to follow? How so?
Should the speaker follow his desire, break the rules, and go after the hind? Do you think he's selling out? What parts of the poem give you your ideas?
Chew on This
Rules and desire are often in conflict. Take the speaker as an example; he is torn between what the rules dictate (chill out, yo) and what he wants (go get that deer).
Rules can be a good thing. In this poem, they not only protect "Caesar's" possession, they also keep the speaker from chasing an animal that might be dangerous ("wild for to hold"). Lucky he wasn't writing about a honey badger…