Sir Thomas Wyatt

(1503-1542 / Kent / England)

They Flee From Me That Sometime Did Me Seek


They flee from me that sometime did me seek,
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek
That are now wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with a continual change.

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

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness,
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Ian Fraser (7/29/2010 3:12:00 PM)

    Because of his extremely limited output Wyatt will probably always remain a minor poet, yet he has a unique - and often quite angry - voice. Wyatt's style sets him apart from many writers of his period. Although he was strongly influenced by the Italian renaissance poets in the forms he chose, there the resemblance ends, he is direct even blunt and often shuns ornament and rhetoric in favor of some very personal utterances, often giving the effect of a much more modern writer - an angry young man of the 16th century? ? It is not clear who the woman in this poem is, though its equally famous counterpart Who List To Hunt, I Know Where is an Hind, is generally considered to be about Anne Boleyn. (Report) Reply

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