Sir Thomas Wyatt’s “Whoso List to Hunt” is a hauntingly beautiful ode to the struggle between kinship and ownership that faces a man and the hind he hunts. What helps to underscore the powerful moments in this poem is the structure it is framed around. This poem starts out with an ABBAABBA octave, is followed by a CDDC quatrain, and ends with an EE couplet. I chose these three images to illustrate the structure:
This first image was chosen because of its symmetry— a feature that I find present in the ABBAABBA rhyming octave. There’s something about the full circle that this rhyming structure makes that is very appealing to the ear, much like how the full circle symmetry of this picture is appealing to the eye. This rhyming pattern is tidy and well-paced, with an ending that mirrors the beginning.
I couldn’t believe my luck at finding this image. It represents the four distinct lines that make up a quatrain, and it also alludes to the connections and interactions between them. For me, this image evokes a sense of beauty in the discovery of these animals, while also establishing a distance between the animal and the observer that cannot seem to be breached. I believe this very feeling is what the speaker experiences when he comes upon the hind in this poem, and that’s part of the reason why I selected this image.
This final image represents the couplet at the end of the poem. It embodies not just the the coexistence between the two lines but the coexistence between the two entities of man and deer, and it suggests a relationship between the natural world and the metaphysical; just as there are otherworldly and biblical allusions in the poem.
Below are my annotations of the poem: