Henry Howard's Poetry page
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The Poetry of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
"Father of the English Sonnet"
Surrey continued in Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Elder's footsteps on the English Sonnet Form form. Wyatt and Surrey, both often titled "father of the English sonnet", established the form that was later used by Shakespeare and others: three quatrains and a couplet, with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. Surrey was also the first English poet to publish in blank verse, in his translation of part of Virgil's Aeneid. Book 4 was published in 1554 and Book 2 in 1557.
Surrey's poetry circulated in manuscript form at court. He published his Epitaph on Sir Thomas Wyatt [below], but most of his poetry first appeared in 1557, ten years after his death, in printer *Richard Tottel's Songs and Sonnets written by the Right Honorable Lord Henry Howard late Earl of Surrey and other. Until modern times it was called simply Songs and Sonnets; but now it is generally known as Tottel's Miscellany . Sir Philip Sidney lauded Surrey's lyrics for "many things tasting of a noble birth, and worthy of a noble mind".
*Tottel, Richard , c.1530–1594?, London publisher. He is chiefly remembered as the compiler of the poetry anthology The Book of Songs and Sonnets (1557), known as Tottel's miscellany. It is important because it preserves the extant original verse of Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, and because it inaugurated the long series of poetry anthologies that were popular in Elizabethan England.
Within a few months of Anne Boleyn's execution the tyrannical disposition of Henry VIII was manifested towards Surrey's uncle. Lord Thomas Howard, who was committed to the Tower for having married the Lady Margaret
Douglas without the King's permission. After being confined for two years he died of a broken heart, an event which made a deep impression upon the poet, and he adverts to it in one of his poems:
" It is not long ago. Sith that for knave one of the race did end his life in woe,
In tower both strong and high, for his assured truth.
Whereas in tears he spent his breath, alas ! the more the ruth.
This gentle beast so died, whom nothing could remove.
But willingly to lese his life for loss of his true love."
|THE MEANS TO ATTAIN A HAPPY LIFE|
MARTIAL, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:—
The richesse left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind;
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom join'd with simpleness;
The night dischargèd of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress.
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Contented with thine own estate
Ne wish for death, ne fear his might.
PRISONED IN WINDSOR,
HE RECOUNTETH HIS PLEASURE THERE PASSED.
SO cruel prison how could betide, alas,
As proud Windsor, where I in lust and joy,
With a Kinges son, my childish years did pass,
In greater feast than Priam's sons of Troy.
Where each sweet place returns a taste full sour.
The large green courts, where we were wont to hove,1
With eyes cast up into the Maiden's tower,
And easy sighs, such as folk draw in love.
The stately seats, the ladies bright of hue.
The dances short, long tales of great delight ;
With words and looks, that tigers could but rue ;
Where each of us did plead the other's right.
The palme-play, where, despoiled for the game,
With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love
Have miss'd the ball, and got sight of our dame,
To bait her eyes, which kept the leads above.
The gravel'd ground, with sleeves tied on the helm,
On foaming horse, with swords and friendly hearts ;
With chere, as though one should another whelm,
Where we have fought, and chased oft with darts.
With silver drops the mead yet spread for ruth,
In active games of nimbleness and strength,
Where we did strain, trained with swarms of youth,
Our tender limbs, that yet shot up in length.
The secret groves, which oft we made resound
Of pleasant plaint, and of our ladies' praise ;
Recording oft what grace each one had found,
What hope of speed, what dread of long delays.
The wild forest, the clothed holts with green ;
With reins availed, and swift y-breathed horse,
With cry of hounds, and merry blasts between,
Where we did chase the fearful hart of force.
The void vales eke, that harbour'd us each night :
Wherewith, alas ! reviveth in my breast
The sweet accord, such sleeps as yet delight ;
The pleasant dreams, the quiet bed of rest ;
The secret thoughts, imparted with such trust ;
The wanton talk, the divers change of play ;
The friendship sworn, each promise kept so just,
Wherewith we past the winter night away.
And with this thought the blood forsakes the face ;
The tears berain my cheeks of deadly hue :
The which, as soon as sobbing sighs, alas !
Up-supped have, thus I my plaint renew :
' O place of bliss ! renewer of my woes !
Give me account, where is my noble fere ?
Whom in thy walls thou d[id]st each night enclose ;
To other lief ; but unto me most dear.'
Echo, alas ! that doth my sorrow rue,
Returns thereto a hollow sound of plaint.
Thus I alone, where all my freedom grew,
In prison pine, with bondage and restraint :
And with remembrance of the greater grief,
To banish the less, I find my chief relief.
|A SATIRE AGAINST THE CITIZENS OF LONDON.|
|Epitaph on Sir Thomas Wyatt's death|
OF THE SAME.
WYATT resteth here, that quick could never rest :
Whose heavenly gifts increased by disdain ;
And virtue sank the deeper in his breast :
Such profit he by envy could obtain.
A head, where wisdom mysteries did frame ;
Whose hammers beat still in that lively brain,
As on a stithe,1 where that some work of fame
Was daily wrought, to turn to Britain's gain.
A visage stern, and mild ; where both did grow
Vice to contemn, in virtue to rejoice :
Amid great storms, whom grace assured so,
To live upright, and smile at fortune's choice.
A hand, that taught what might be said in rhyme ;
That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit.
A mark, the which (unperfected for time)
Some may approach, but never none shall hit.
A tongue that serv'd in foreign realms his king ;
Whose courteous talk to virtue did inflame
Each noble heart ; a worthy guide to bring
Our English youth by travail unto fame.
An eye, whose judgment none effect could blind,
Friends to allure, and foes to reconcile ;
Whose piercing look did represent a mind
With virtue fraught, reposed, void of guile.
A heart, where dread was never so imprest
To hide the thought that might the truth advance ;
In neither fortune loft, nor yet represt,
To swell in wealth, or yield unto mischance.
A valiant corpse, where force and beauty met :
Happy, alas! too happy, but for foes,
Lived, and ran the race that nature set ;
Of manhood's shape, where she the mould did lose.
But to the heavens that simple soul is fled,
Which left, with such as covet Christ to know,
Witness of faith, that never shall be dead ;
Sent for our health, but not received so.
Thus for our guilt this jewel have we lost ;
The earth his bones, the heaven possess his ghost.
1 Forge, or anvil.
LOVE THAT DOTH REIGN AND LIVE WITHIN MY THOUGHT
Love that doth reign and live within my thought
And built his seat withing my captive breast
Clad in arms wherein with me he fought,
Oft in my face he doth his banner rest.
But she that taught me love and suffer pain,
My doubtful hope and eke my hot desire
With shamefaced look to shadow and refrain, Her smiling grace converteth straight to ire.
And coward Love, then, to the heart apace Taketh his flight, where he doth lurk and 'plain, His purpose lost, and dare not show his face. For my lord's guilt thus faultless bide I pain,
Yet from my lord shall not my foot remove,-- Sweet is the death that taketh end by love.
Note: The sonnet above is translated from Petrarch. Compare with Wyatt's sonnet <a class="external" href="http://www.sonnets.org/wyatt.htm#002" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">"The long love that in my heart doth harbor..."</a> or with a <a class="external" href="http://www.sonnets.org/petrarch.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">literal translation from the Italian</a>.
SET ME WHEREAS THE SUN DOTH PARCH THE GREEN
Set me wheras the sun doth parch the green
Or where his beams do not dissolve the ice,
In temperate heat where he is felt and seen;
In presence prest of people, mad or wise;
Set me in high or yet in low degree,
In longest night or in the shortest day,
In clearest sky or where clouds thickest be,
In lusty youth or when my hairs are gray.
Set me in heaven, in earth, or else in hell;
In hill, or dale, or in the foaming flood;
Thrall or at large, alive whereso I dwell,
Sick or in health, in evil fame or good:
Hers will I be, and only with this thought
Content myself although my chance be nought.
|FROM TUSCAN CAME MY LADY'S WORTHY RACE|
From Tuscan came my lady's worthy race;
Fair Florence was sometime her ancient seat.
The western isle whose pleasant shore doth face
Wild Camber's cliffs, did give her lively heat.
Foster'd she was with milk of Irish breast;
Her sire an earl, her dame of princes' blood.
From tender years in Britain she doth rest
With a king's child, where she tastes ghostly food.
Hunsdon did first present her to mine eyen;
Bright is her hue, and *Geraldine she hight;
Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine;
And Windsor, alas, doth chase me from her sight.
Beauty her mate, her virtues from above:
Happy is he that may obtain her love.
Probably composed in 1537, while Surrey was briefly imprisoned at Windsor for striking a courtier within the royal grounds. *Geraldine was Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a daughter of the Earl of Kildare. Born in Ireland ca. 1528, she was brought by her father to England in 1533. She married an old widower in 1543.
A Praise of His Love
|A SONG WRITTEN BY THE EARL OF SURREY. |
OF A LADY THAT REFUSED TO DANCE WITH HIM. (Anne Stanhope, Lady Hertford)