HE poet with whose verses the last chapter ended was named Henry
Howard, Earl of Surrey. The son of a noble and ancient house,
Surrey lived a gay life in court and camp. Proud,
A later writer has called Surrey the "first refiner" of our language. And just as there comes a time in our own lives when we begin to care not only for the story, but for the words in which a story is told and for the way in which those words are used, so, too, there comes such a time in the life of a nation, and this time for England we may perhaps date from Wyatt and Surrey. Before then there were men who tried to use the best words in the best way, but they did it unknowingly, as birds might sing. The language, too, in which they wrote was still a growing thing. When Surrey wrote it had nearly reached its finished state, and he helped to finish and polish it.
As the fashion was, Surrey chose a lady to whom to address his
verses. She was the little Lady Elizabeth
"The sweet season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale,
The nightingale with feathers new she sings:
The turtle to her mate hath told her tale.
Summer is come, for every spray now springs,
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale,
The buck in haste his winter coat he flings;
The fishes float with new repaired scale,
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies small;
Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale.
And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs."
Besides following Wyatt in making the sonnet known to English
readers, Surrey was the first to write in blank verse, that is in
It was in translating part of Virgil's Aeneid that Surrey used
blank verse. Virgil was an ancient Roman poet, born
This is how he tells of the way in which Aeneas saved his old father by carrying him on his shoulders out of the burning town of Troy when "The crackling flame was heard throughout the walls, and more and more the burning heat drew near."
"My shoulders broad,
And layéd neck with garments 'gan I spread,
And thereon cast a yellow lion's skin;
And thereupon my burden I receive.
Young Iulus clasped in my right hand,
Followeth me fast, with unequal pace,
And at my back my wife. Thus did we pass
By places shadowed most with the night,
And me, whom late the dart which enemies threw,
Nor press of Argive routs could make amaz'd,
Each whisp'ring wind hath power now to fray,
And every sound to move my doubtful mind.
So much I dread my burden and my fere.
And now we 'gan draw near unto the gate,
Right well escap'd the danger, as me thought,
When that at hand a sound of feet we heard.
My father then, gazing throughout the dark,
Cried on me, 'Flee, son! they are at hand.'
With that, bright shields, and shene armours I saw
But then, I know not what unfriendly god
My troubled wit from me bereft for fear.
For while I ran by the most secret streets,
Eschewing still the common haunted track,
From me, catif, alas! bereavéd was
Creusa then, my spouse; I wot not how,
Whether by fate, or missing of the way,
Or that she was by weariness retain'd;
But never sith these eyes might her behold.
Nor did I yet perceive that she was lost,
Nor never backward turnéd I my mind;
Till we came to the hill whereon there stood
The old temple dedicated to Ceres.
And when that we were there assembled all,
She was only away deceiving us,
Her spouse, her son, and all her company.
What god or man did I not then accuse,
Near wode for ire? or what more cruel chance
Did hap to me in all Troy's overthrow?"