Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Thomas Wyatt: Who so list to hount I know where is an hynde


File:Piebald deer.JPG

Who so list to hount I know where is an hynde
but as for me helas I may no more
the vayne travaill hath weried me so sore
I ame of theim that farthest cometh behinde
yet may I by no meanes my weried mynde
drawe from the Deere but as she fleeth afore
faynting I folowe I leve of therefor
sithens in a nett I seke to hold the wynde
Who list her hount I put him owte of dowbte
as well as I may spend his tyme in vain
and graven with Diamondes in letters plain
There is written her faier neck rounde abowte
noli me tangere for Caesar's I ame
and wylde for to hold though I seme tame

Anna  Bolina - Vxor Henri Octa

File:Henry VIII of England, by Hans Holbein  the Younger.jpg

File:Sir Thomas Wyatt, by Hans Holbein the  Younger.jpg

Who so list to hount I know where is an hynde: Thomas Wyatt, from Egerton MS 2711, British Library

Poem freely adapted from Petrarch Rime 190
Likely written in or before 1527; appears to refer to Wyatt's "losing" Anne Boleyn to his sovereign, Henry VIII
Diamondes (diamonds): in Petrarch, symbolic of chastity
noli me tangere='touch me not': words of the resurrected Christ to Mary Magdalen (John 20:17); said to be the motto inscribed on collars of Caesar's hinds (deer), for their protection from hunters
Caesars I ame
: cf. Matthew 22:21: 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's'

Piebald doe: photo by Nedlym, 2009
Anne Boleyn: artist unknown, n.d. (National Portrait Gallery, London)
Henry VIII: Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1534-1536 (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid)
Sir Thomas Wyatt: Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1535-1537 (Royal Collection, Windsor Castle; from Susan Foister, Holbein in England, London, 2006)


Tom Raworth said...

Tom: apt to have the excellent Wyatt at such a time: Fortune with Health stands at debate.
best, Tom

Anonymous said...

Sovereigns aplenty, keeping me busy: kings granting charter, wizards granting wishes, property protection (both princess and hind) and Caesar to consider.

You're throwing diamonds and emeralds into the air for us to catch, for free.

And everyone else is busy crafting glittering promises
wanting payment
in exchange for something that never belonged to them.

"Should we pay or shouldn't we?"

Perhaps not.



Beautiful -- how nice to find this just now, original spellings and all. And the photos. Thank you (and where else in the world of poetry blogs would this appear?).


grey whiteness of clouds above shadowed
ridge, song sparrow calling from branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

cannot be acted on, attempt
space as action system

mentioned in text, consider
it further, shows that

grey-white clouds to the left of point,
shadowed green of ridge across from it

Curtis Roberts said...

What an extremely enjoyable morning reading Wyatt and about Wyatt (and Petrarch, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn). Ditto Anonymous's comments, especially the part about the diamonds and emeralds.

TC said...

Curtis, Anon -- not to mention the topazes, one of the several pretty bits of the Petrarch W. seems (characteristically) to have deliberately left out.

Steve leaves us


mentioned in text, consider
it further,

and so we do.
Tom reminds that Henry Tudor had an interesting inhouse health care reform scheme that proved universal for his wives and their real and suspected lovers. It involved, we remember, a single provider. Wyatt, from his own prison cell in the Tower, watched a hooded Anne led from her cell to the scaffold, and then watched her being beheaded.This caused him to "feel upon the pulse" (as Keats might have said) the Senecan adage, from Phaedra, concerning Jove's curious habit of "thundering around thrones."

Who lyst his welthe and eas Retayne
Hym selffe let hym vnknowne contayne
Presse not too fast in at that gatte
Where the Retorne stands by desdayne
For sure circa Regna tonat

The hye mountaynis ar blastyd oft
When the lowe vaylye ys myld and soft
Ffortune with helthe stondis at debate
The ffall ys grevous ffrom Aloffte
And sure, circa Regna tonat

These blodye dayes haue brokyn my hart
My lust my youth dyd then departe
And blynd desyre of astate
Who hastis to clyme sekes to reuert
Of truth circa Regna tonat

The bell towre showed me such syght
That in my hed stekys day and nyght
Thr did I lerne out of a grate
Ffor all vauore glory or myght
That yet circa Regna tonat

And finally, speaking of pretty bits left out or worse still deliberately relieved of their prettiness, the sense of the discontinuity between sacred and profane which riddles this poem probably cannot be fully grasped without at least a quick peek at the original source text, Petrarch's Una candida cerva.

Petrarch, "Rime 190"

Una candida cerva sopra l'erba

Verde m'apparve, con duo corna d'oro,

Fra due riviere, all'ombra d'un alloro,

Levando 'l sole, a la stagione ascerba.

Era sua vista sí dolce superba,

Chi'i lasciai per seguirla ogni lavoro;

Com l'avaro, che 'n cercar tesoro

Com diletto l'affanno disascerba.

"Nessun mi tócchi--al bel collo d'intorno

Scritto avea di diamanti e di topazi--

Libera farmi al mio Cesare parve".

Et era 'l sol giá vòlto al mezzo giorno;

Gli occhi miei stanchi di mirar non sazî,

Quand'io caddi ne l'acqua, et ella sparve.

Petrarch's "Una Candida Cerva" (The White Doe):

A white deer appeared to me on the green grass
With two horns of gold, between two rivers in the shade
Of a laurel tree, as the sun was rising
In the bitter season.

Her appearance was so sweetly proud
That I left off every labor to follow her,
As the miser for whom hunting
Treasure with delight makes less bitter the distress.

"No one touch me" was written in diamonds and topaz
A around her beautiful neck; "Caesar wants me free."
The sun had already revolved to midday; my eyes were
Wearied from gazing, but not satiated when I fell
Into the water and she disappeared.

J said...

Who list her hount I put him owte of dowbte

She's Hank's Ho now? mo' or less.

The poet's probably hardly less a perp than that fat, syphillitic tyrant Hank 8--.

The Ahht says something the words only hint at--a slight hint of irony--ie, portrait of a chubby royalist sadist--court painters generally snuck in a bit of realism, when they could

Anonymous said...

While the court portrait painter might have gotten away with a touch of realism, i guess it is a rare reign when the court poet doesn't need to resort to a sublime subversion...though crafting code to channel anguish and proclaim dissent regarding a beloved's beheading is rough intelligence trade indeed.

Many thanks for the glorious journey with Wyatt and his readers here today.

TC said...


Apart from being simplistic, reductive, historically inaccurate, and generally disrespectful, your comment suggests that you have less interest in the subject you are ostensibly talking about than in establishing yourself as a contrarian, a knight of internet free speech at any cost (even if the cost is ignoring -- or missing? -- the complexity of the truth).

It is generally agreed by scholars that Henry VIII was NOT syphilitic, by the way. After a fall from a horse in 1528 and subsequent ulceration of the leg wound he gradually became an invalid. The problem appears to have been either osteomyelitis or a varicose ulcer. (There were standard treatments for venereal disease at the time; there is no evidence that Henry ever resorted to these, though of course he had doctors galore.) Thrombosis seems to have aggravated the problem. See Scarisbrick, Henry VIII esp. p. 485.

(By the way, as to some of your unfortunate word choices in referring to women in comments on this blog of late -- "pussy", "broad", "ho" & c. -- I find it curious that in your comment trail on Mariana Soffer's blog, such terms are not deployed. The unavoidable conclusion is that there are different Js for different venues. And who IS J anyway? )


There's great interest in the whole question of what degree of realism and what degree of indirection was necessary for a court painter or a court poet in those times.

We do know that Henry sent Holbein off to "do" Anne of Cleves, and was quite taken with the portrait when he saw it, enough so to get him into a marriage contract that, after he had glommed his glims upon the subject in person, required some trouble to worm his way out of. That did not endear Holbein to him.

In portraying the surfaces of this world of the Tudor court, though, Holbein's honesty is the best information we have. The Holbein painting that is most relevant here is probably The Ambassadors.

These of course are the surfaces Wyatt would have brushed against in his work as -- indeed -- an ambassador to the courts of Europe on Henry's behalf. And not only his dalliance with Anne Boleyn -- from which he was probably sensible enough to withdraw, once he recognized the magnitude of the competition -- but the complexity of spycraft itself, in that time, made his position continually fraught. He was in the Tower and in reasonable fear for his life more than once. To my mind it is a wonder he lived as long as he did. And that was not very long (39).

And it is also remarkable to me that he would have had the nerve to compose, and perhaps circulate within a small court circle, a poem like this one, at a time like that. The consequences could have been grave indeed.

J said...

It's a bit colloquial poet boy--not quite as much as say WC Willians or Jeffers.

Then I could just refer to New Advent with like the condemnation of Hank 8 into perdido. I don't think you understand the historical context, any more than you understand the philosophical context (like, divine right of kings). But act like TS Eliot--maybe some of yr putos will mistake you as such.

J said...

Mariana Soffer's blog

I have no idea who this is--there are dozens, if not hundreds of "J's". Anyway I thought you figured it out. First, I'm not a poet, and I detest approx. 95% of poesy, especially the anglo-tory sort (there are a few geniuses I respect...). That might sound a trifle philistinish, but it's not: contra-aestheticism was the classical position--Plato (see Republic Book X), the church, even empiricists, Marx, up to positivists, and Bertrand Russell. It was bad modernists and neo romantics (like beatniks) who brought back the aestheticism...

TC said...

If the courteous and evidently intelligent "J" who appears on Mariana's blog and the rude and evidently attention-deprived "J" who is hiding behind your sock puppet are not the same person, then I apologize to Mariana's "J".

In any case, whoever you are, since you hate poetry so much anyway, please immediately find something else, somewhere else, to occupy yourself.


And lest we forget, let's recall Wyatt's look back at some happier time --

Thanked be Fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better ; but once especial,
In thin array, after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown did from her shoulders fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small,
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, ' Dear heart, how like you this ?'

TC said...


Thank you very much for the er, shall we say civilized transition.

That stanza of "They flee from me" has long seemed to me to embody much of the complexity in Wyatt's greatest lyrics.

Here is the Egerton MS version:

Thancked be fortune it hath ben othrewise
twenty tymes better but ons in speciall
in thyn arraye after a pleasaunt gyse
When her lose gowne from her shoulders did fall
and she me caught in her armes long and small
and therewithall swetely did me kysse
and softely said dere hert howe like you this

An "ambiguity of hunter and hunted," writes Thomas Greene, "affects several words. 'Caught' first seems to mean 'embraced' and only later is seen to mean 'trapped', as 'hart' first seems to mean 'heart' and later 'prey'... The semiotic inconsistency of Wyatt's great poem, wherein signifiers keep trading in meanings for new, often uglier ones is a constitutive structural element in the poem. It helps to define the plight of the nobleman who has thought he knew the rules of the games that were dirtying his hands, only to discover that the games are dirtier than he realized, have no fixed rules, and thus no reliable vocabulary..."

. said...

Thanks for this Tom. A delight, both alone and when placed in a relevant modern context. Simply that.

And it sent me off to forage me some Holbein again - not an easy meal but extremely satisfying.


Excellent Tom, thanks for lovely printing of Egerton, w/ its spelling pushing the words towards wherever ELSE they might think to roam -- "thancked" and "othrewise" for instance, and "ons" instead of "once," the two l's in "speciall" (as if doubling the pleasure), "pleasaunt gyse" ---- ah, Wyatt, thanks (!)

TC said...

Earlier I cited Holbein's The Ambassadors (1533) -- a portrait of two French diplomats at the English court -- as reference to the surfaces and textures of Wyatt's world.

However the link I gave to details from the painting was alas botched.

For those who are interested, here it is, corrected.