Sir Thomas Wyatt’s “They flee from me . . .”

This poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt, in rhyme royal, has always haunted me for the lines, “But all is turned thorough my gentleness / Into a strange fashion of forsaking.” Those lines reflect something deep in my personality that, like many such mechanisms, is both one of my most characteristic strengths — and also one of my fatal flaws.

Whenever a poem resonates for me like this, I feel a closeness to the poet — a denial of loneliness — a sense that a person can speak across centuries of time to me, a total stranger.

They flee from me that Sometime did me Seek
by
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

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 now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself 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 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.


For notes and extensive commentary, see Representative Poetry Online.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Being human, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s