Sir Thomas Wyatt: Poems

They Flee from Me

They flee from me that sometimes did me seek

With naked foot stalking in my chamber

I have seen them gentle tame and meek

That now are wild and do not remember

That sometime they put themselves in danger

To take bread at my hand; and now they range

Buisly 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 from her shoulders did fall,

And she caught in her arms long and small;

And therewithal 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 through 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.

This is Wyatt's personal lyric containing threee stanzas, of seven lines each, written in 'rhyme royal'. The rhyme scheme is ababbcc. This stanza form is used effectively in the poem, as the ababb lines set up the cc lines for a powerful conclusion in each stanza.

In the first stanza, the speaker laments the fact that his lovers are leaving him. He remembers them when they were gentle and tame, but now he characterizes the departing lovers as wild and as not remembering the past love they had for the speaker. The speaker recalls that the ones who are leaving him used to take risks to be with him, but now they are looking for change.They are actively looking for something different. They are like wild animals that were domesticated, but they have regained their primal state and forgotten their taming.

The speaker recalls how lucky he was to have an experience that was twenty times better than what is happening now.

The appearances and actions of the lover peak in this passionate moment of the stanza.

The third stanza is unique in both its word choice and sentence structure. The speaker claims that the previously recalled erotic scene was not a dream, it was vividly real. Now however, everything has changed because of his gentleness and the lover is pursuing 'newfangleness' or the desire for change. The speaker ends by claiming that after the desertion he has experienced, he wonders what his lovers deserve.The speaker seems to believe that the lovers have left because he is too gentle; he was unwilling to prevent them from forsaking. Perhaps this is why the lovers have changed from 'tame to wild'. Because of his gentleness, the lovers feel free to pursue their 'newfangleness'

The ideas of gentleness, forsaking, goodness and newfangleness are linked by parallelism. These are disparate ideas, and the sentence structure links them by using each one to modify or explain the other ones. The speaker concludes with a hint of sarcasm, 'But since that I so kindly am served,/ I would fain know what she hath deserved'

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Nice explanation.