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They Flee From Me Analysis

Author: Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt Type: Poetry Views: 2491

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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.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Surely this alludes to one particular woman only - Anne Boleyn? It is her feet which now flee from him, and she who once kissed him and now rejects him. Wasn't it witnessing her execution from his prison in the Tower of London which "broke his heart" in his later poem?

| Posted on 2014-03-21 | by a guest

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From the the desription of the women in the first tanza it almost seem seems to me that the women in the poem were women her saw as young girls and perhaps heeven grew up with them.

| Posted on 2012-09-27 | by a guest

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I don\'t think he\'s comparing his former mistresses to birds, because birds don\'t \"stalk with naked foot\".
Well obviously they do have naked feet, and some long-legged birds can stalk, but I think the image is meant to suggest deer. The women were like shy, timid little hinds, stealing into his room barefoot and quiet to, er...take bread at his hand. Sort of. Bit of a metaphor for something else being offered and taken there.
Now they run off as if he scares them. They \"range\", like cattle do, feeding wherever they like. Poor guy.

| Posted on 2012-06-23 | by a guest

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I think what changes in the poem is his perception of the women, not the women themselves. They appear to be meek and submissive but they are playing a role and have an agenda. When he falls into his lover\'s arms (a metaphor for feeling faint at the captivating sight of her stunning beauty,) this is where the realization comes (in reflection): that the roles are reversed and he is the meek one at the power of the women and was naive to what was really going on. (It should be noted the language is confusing, but she is the one who kisses him and facetiously says, \"Heart, how like you this?\") So what flees from him in the end is really his illusion of the women. (BTW, there is an episode of The Tudors dedicated to the poem: \"True Love\" S01E06.)

| Posted on 2012-06-03 | by a guest

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“They Flee From Me” is not a sonnet, because it has more than fourteen lines, and follows an ABABBCC rhyme scheme. Overall this poem is about a man who has noticed his past lovers have turned fickle towards him. Many people think that some of him poems have this common subject because he had a past filled with unfaithful lovers, and women who left him for other men.
The first stanza is stating how he has had women as his lovers while they were still innocent and naive, and has watched them change over time into more experienced and less gentle women. While in the second stanza it is stated how the man is remembering the gentleness in which he treated his lover, and how her innocence was special. The third stanza finally draws the poem to an end, while stating that the man knows he is not in a dream, and that his lover has grown fickle and forgets the gentleness with which he treated her. That she has turned to forsaking him, and he has also taken notice to her lack of goodness.

| Posted on 2012-05-03 | by a guest

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The \"..you...\" in \"...how like you this...\" , in both uses of the phrase, refers to the poet himself. His potrayal of himself through this tense I think really heightens the melonchlic tone; he is questioning, remembering, and alluding to a time when he was happy. The animalistic imagery in the first stanza could refer to the free, un-tethered nature of wild animals, such as birds, who are both gentle and tame as the poet describes, but who in their tameness are in search of only one thing (in this case, bread or food, but when the animals are interpretted as a metaphor for the poet\'s mistress, she is tame only for the sex. Does the poet feel used? Cheated, for feeling an attachment to someone whose own attachment had an ulterior motive - pleasure?). In the repition of the phrase, the emotions of the poet are thus exposed - a sceptical, almost bitter, approach to the same order of words which previously meant something to him.

| Posted on 2010-08-31 | by a guest

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In the first stanza the women Wyatt speaks of are metaphorically portrayed as birds.

| Posted on 2010-05-27 | by a guest

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In the 3rd stanza there is Irony in the word "Kindly", because he really means that he has been treated "harshly" (he says something and means yhe opposite).

| Posted on 2010-05-19 | by a guest

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the persona used to have alotof mistress' ,before they changed upon him .they used to take the risk to see him and now they changed.

| Posted on 2010-02-02 | by a guest

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the persona used to have alotof mistress' ,before they changed upon him .they used to take the risk to see him and now they changed.

| Posted on 2010-02-02 | by a guest

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A kind of erotism is sensed to some extent.For instance ; Naked foot , loose gown.The ladies mentioned in the poem are desperate ones and they have to pay off their debts in return for money.Their payments are their bodies.The carnal love is dominant in that poem.It is a melancholic poem.

| Posted on 2010-01-04 | by a guest

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This poem reverses the conventional male-female roles in sexual liaisons. There is a genuine dichotomy in the description of the women. While the women are initially described as being 'gentle' and meek' they also 'put themselves in danger' - and are therefore in fact more daring than pusillanimous. The 'they' of the title of the poem also refers to these women, who the narrator fails to offer a definitive identity. They do not carry female characteristics yet the close reading of 'naked foot' seems to suggest that the 'they' are human.
It is only as the poem progresses that the dynamics in the relationship between the collective 'they' and the persona is broken down. The second stanza charts a palpable change in the narrator's perspective of his visitors. They 'they become a 'her' and for the first time in the poem it is intimated or confirmed that these 'tame' beings are women. The first use of her alongside her 'loose gown' carries sexual overtones, and appears to imply that the persona has lost power to the attraction of female beauty. However the female figure is still not named - not because she doesn't warrant a name but perhaps because she is of a supernatural and ephemeral 'guise'. The duality in the significance of this word portends that the man will never be capable of finding love with 'her and that she is not all that she seems.

| Posted on 2008-10-29 | by a guest

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This poem is particularly interesting as we see Wyatt descrbing a man who though has been (served) sexually he seems confused, and unsatisfies.It seems like a case of Karma he has slep with many women and now the one which he truley desires has done the same to him!

| Posted on 2008-06-10 | by a guest

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