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HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY


Botticelli. Primavera. 1478.
Botticelli. Primavera. 1478. The Uffizi, Florence.

COMPLAINT OF A LOVER THAT DEFIED LOVE,

AND WAS BY LOVE AFTER THE MORE TORMENTED.


WHEN Summer took in hand the winter to assail,
With force of might, and virtue great, his stormy blasts to quail :
And when he clothed fair the earth about with green,
And every tree new garmented, that pleasure was to seen :
Mine heart gan new revive, and changed blood did stir,
Me to withdraw my winter woes, that kept within the dore. 1
'Abroad,' quoth my desire, 'assay to set thy foot ;
Where thou shalt find the savour sweet ; for sprung is every root.
And to thy health, if thou were sick in any case,
Nothing more good than in the spring the air to feel a space.
There shalt thou hear and see all kinds of birds y-wrought,
Well tune their voice with warble small, as nature hath them taught.'
Thus pricked me my lust the sluggish house to leave,
And for my health I thought it best such counsel to receive.
So on a morrow forth, unwist of any wight,
I went to prove how well it would my heavy burden light.
And when I felt the air so pleasant round about,
Lord ! to myself how glad I was that I had gotten out.
There might I see how Ver 2 had every blossom hent, 3
And eke the new betrothed birds, y-coupled how they went ;
And in their songs, methought, they thanked Nature much,
That by her license all that year to love, their hap was such,
Right as they could devise to choose them feres 4 throughout :
With much rejoicing to their Lord, thus flew they all about.
Which when I gan resolve, and in my head conceive,
What pleasant life, what heaps of joy, these little birds receive ;
And saw in what estate I, weary man, was wrought,
By want of that, they had at will, and I reject at nought ;
Lord ! how I gan in wrath unwisely me demean !
I cursed Love, and him defied ; I thought to turn the stream.
But when I well beheld, he had me under awe,
I asked mercy for my fault, that so transgrest his law :
' Thou blinded God,' quoth I, ' forgive me this offence,
Unwittingly I went about, to malice thy pretence.'
Wherewith he gave a beck, and thus methought he swore :
' Thy sorrow ought suffice to purge thy fault, if it were more.'
The virtue of which sound mine heart did so revive,
That I, methought, was made as whole as any man alive.
But here I may perceive mine error, all and some,
For that I thought that so it was ; yet was it still undone ;
And all that was no more but mine expressed mind,
That fain would have some good relief, of Cupid well assign'd.
I turned home forthwith, and might perceive it well,
That he aggrieved was right sore with me for my rebel.
My harms have ever since increased more and more,
And I remain, without his help undone, for ever more.
A mirror let me be unto ye lovers all ;
Strive not with love ; for if ye do, it will ye thus befall.


1 Door
2 Spring.
3 Taken hold of, i.e. brought out every blossom.
4 Companions, mates.



Source:
Surrey, Henry Howard, Earl of.
The Poetical Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1854. 8-11.




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Images of London:
London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR



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