Sunday, October 2, 2011

They Flee from Me... by Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

They flee from me that Sometime did me Seek

1They flee from me that sometime did me seek
2With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
3I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
4That now are wild and do not remember
5That sometime they put themself in danger
6To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
7Busily seeking with a continual change.

8Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
9Twenty times better; but once in special,
10In thin array after a pleasant guise,
11When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
12And she me caught in her arms long and small;
13Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
14And softly said, "dear heart, how like you this?"

15It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
16But all is turned thorough my gentleness
17Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
18And I have leave to go of her goodness,
19And she also, to use newfangleness.
20But since that I so kindly am served
21I would fain know what she hath deserved.


1] "The louer sheweth how he is forsaken of such as he sometime enioyed" (Tottel).

2] stalking: walking carefully in a stealthy way.

5] in danger: under obligation to me, in my debt (or possibly even: in my power).

9] Twenty times better: better on twenty occasions; or more than twenty times?
in special: especially.

10] pleasant guise: pleasing style, or possibly behaviour or livery (dress).

12] small: slender.

14] heart: a play on "hart."

15] broad waking: wide awake.

16] thorough: through.

18] leave to go of her goodness: her gracious permission to go (ironically).

19] newfangleness: literally: fondness for novelty, following the fashion; fickleness.

20] kindly: in a kind way (ironically), and according to nature (as a wild animal would behave).

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