Verse > Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey > Poetical Works
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–47).  The Poetical Works.  1880.
Songs and Sonnets
A description of the restless State of the Lover when absent from the Mistress of his Heart
THE SUN, when he hath spread his rays,
And shewed his face ten thousand ways;
Ten thousand things do then begin,
To shew the life that they are in.
The heaven shews lively art and hue,        5
Of sundry shapes and colours new,
And laughs upon the earth; anon,
The earth, as cold as any stone,
Wet in the tears of her own kind,
’Gins then to take a joyful mind.        10
For well she feels that out and out
The sun doth warm her round about,
And dries her children tenderly;
And shews them forth full orderly.
The mountains high, and how they stand!        15
The valleys, and the great main land!
The trees, the herbs, the towers strong,
The castles, and the rivers long!
And even for joy thus of this heat
She sheweth forth her pleasures great,        20
And sleeps no more; but sendeth forth
Her clergions, 1 her own dear worth,
To mount and fly up to the air;
Where then they sing in order fair,
And tell in song full merrily,        25
How they have slept full quietly
That night, about their mother’s sides.
And when they have sung more besides,
Then fall they to their mother’s breast,
Whereas they feed, or take their rest.        30
The hunter then sounds out his horn,
And rangeth straight through wood and corn.
On hills then shew the ewe and lamb,
And every young one with his dam.
Then lovers walk and tell their tale,        35
Both of their bliss, and of their bale;
And how they serve, and how they do,
And how their lady loves them too.
Then tune the birds their harmony;
Then flock the fowl in company;        40
Then every thing doth pleasure find
In that, that comforts all their kind.
No dreams do drench them of the night
Of foes, that would them slay, or bite,
As hounds, to hunt them at the tail;        45
Or men force them through hill and dale.
The sheep then dreams not of the wolf:
The shipman forces not the gulf;
The lamb thinks not the butcher’s knife
Should then bereave him of his life.        50
For when the sun doth once run in,
Then all their gladness doth begin;
And then their skips, and then their play:
So falls their sadness then away.
  And thus all things have comforting        55
In that, that doth them comfort bring;
Save I, alas! whom neither sun,
Nor aught that God hath wrought and done
May comfort aught; as though I were
A thing not made for comfort here.        60
For being absent from your sight,
Which are my joy and whole delight,
My comfort, and my pleasure too,
How can I joy! how should I do?
May sick men laugh, that roar for pain?        65
Joy they in song, that do complain?
Are martyrs in their torments glad?
Do pleasures please them that are mad?
Then how may I in comfort be,
That lack the thing should comfort me?        70
The blind man oft, that lacks his sight,
Complains not most the lack of light;
But those that knew their perfectness,
And then do miss their blissfulness,
In martyr’s tunes they sing, and wail        75
The want of that, which doth them fail.
  And hereof comes that in my brains
So many fancies work my pains.
For when I weigh your worthiness,
Your wisdom, and your gentleness,        80
Your virtues and your sundry grace,
And mind the countenance of your face;
And how that you are she alone,
To whom I must both plain and moan;
Whom I do love, and must do still;        85
Whom I embrace, and aye so will,
To serve and please eke as I can,
As may a woful faithful man;
And find myself so far you fro,
God knows, what torment and what woe,        90
My rueful heart doth then embrace;
The blood then changeth in my face;
My sinews dull, in dumps 2 I stand,
No life I feel in foot nor hand,
As pale as any clout, and dead.        95
Lo! suddenly the blood o’erspread,
And gone again, it nill so bide;
And thus from life to death I slide,
As cold sometimes as any stone;
And then again as hot anon.        100
  Thus come and go my sundry fits,
To give me sundry sorts of wits;
Till that a sigh becomes my friend,
And then too all this woe doth end.
And sure I think, that sigh doth run        105
From me to you, whereas you won.
For well I find it easeth me;
And certès much it pleaseth me,
To think that it doth come to you,
As, would to God, it could so do.        110
For then I know you would soon find,
By scent and savour of the wind,
That even a martyr’s sigh it is,
Whose joy you are, and all his bliss;
His comfort and his pleasure eke,        115
And even the same that he doth seek;
The same that he doth wish and crave;
The same that he doth trust to have;
To tender you in all he may,
And all your likings to obey,        120
As far as in his power shall lie;
Till death shall dart him, for to die.
  But well-away! mine own most best,
My joy, my comfort, and my rest;
The causer of my woe and smart,        125
And yet the pleaser of my heart;
And she that on the earth above
Is even the worthiest for to love,
Hear now my plaint! hear now my woe!
Hear now his pain that loves you so!        130
And if your heart do pity bear,
Pity the cause that you shall hear.
  A doleful foe in all this doubt,
Who leaves me not, but seeks me out,
Of wretched form and loathsome face,        135
While I stand in this woful case,
Comes forth, and takes me by the hand,
And says, ‘Friend, hark! and understand;
I see well by thy port and chere,
And by thy looks and thy manere,        140
And by thy sadness as thou goest,
And by the sighs that thou out throwest,
That thou art stuffed full of woe.
The cause, I think, I do well know.
A fantaser thou art of some,        145
By whom thy wits are overcome.
But hast thou read old pamphlets aught?
Or hast thou known how books have taught
That love doth use to such as thou?
When they do think them safe enow,        150
And certain of their ladies’ grace,
Hast thou not seen ofttimes the case,
That suddenly their hap hath turn’d?
As things in flame consum’d and burn’d.
Some by deceit forsaken right;        155
Some likewise changed of fancy light;
And some by absence soon forgot.
The lots in love, why knowest thou not?
And though that she be now thine own,
And knows thee well, as may be known;        160
And thinks thee to be such a one
As she likes best to be her own;
Think’st thou that others have not grace,
To shew and plain their woful case?
And choose her for their lady now;        165
And swear her truth as well as thou?
And what if she do alter mind,
Where is the love that thou wouldst find?
Absence, my friend, works wonders oft;
Now brings full low that lay full loft;        170
Now turns the mind, now to, now fro’ 3
And where art thou, if it were so?’
  ‘If absence,’ quoth I, be marvellous,
I find her not so dangerous;
For she may not remove me fro’.        175
The poor good will that I do owe
To her, whom erst 4 I love, and shall;
And chosen have above them all,
To serve and be her own as far
As any man may offer her;        180
And will her serve and will her love,
And lowly, as it shall behove;
And die her own, if fate be so:
Thus shall my heart nay part her fro’.
And witness shall my good will be,        185
That absence takes her not from me;
But that my love doth still increase
To mind her still, and never cease:
And what I feel to be in me,
The same good will, I think, hath she        190
As firm and fast to bidden aye,
Till death depart us both away.’
  And as I have my tale thus told,
Steps unto me, with countenance bold,
A steadfast friend, a counsellor,        195
And nam’d is, Hope, my comforter;
And stoutly then he speaks and says,
‘Thou hast said truth withouten nays;
For I assure thee, even by oath,
And thereon take my hand and troth,        200
That she is one the worthiest,
The truest, and the faithfullest;
The gentlest and the meekest of mind,
That here on earth a man may find:
And if that love and truth were gone,        205
In her it might be found alone.
For in her mind no thought there is,
But how she may be true, I wis;
And tenders thee, and all thy heal,
And wisheth both thy health and weal;        210
And loves thee even as far-forth than
As any woman may a man;
And is thine own, and so she says;
And cares for thee ten thousand ways.
On thee she speaks, on thee she thinks;        215
With thee she eats, with thee she drinks;
With thee she talks, with thee she moans;
With thee she sighs, with thee she groans;
With thee she says, ‘Farewell, mine own!’
When thou, God knows, full far art gone.        220
And even, to tell thee all aright,
To thee she says full oft, ‘Good night!’
And names thee oft her own most dear,
Her comfort, weal, and all her cheer;
And tells her pillow all the tale        225
How thou hast done her woe and bale;
And how she longs, and plains for thee,
And says, ‘Why art thou so from me?
Am I not she that loves thee best?
Do I not wish thine ease and rest?        230
Seek I not how I may thee please?
Why art thou then so from thine ease?
If I be she for whom thou carest,
For whom in torments so thou farest,
Alas! thou knowest to find me here,        235
Where I remain thine own most dear;
Thine own most true, thine own most just;
Thine own that loves thee still, and must;
Thine own that cares alone for thee,
As thou, I think, dost care [for] me;        240
And even the woman, she alone
That is full bent to be thine own.’
  ‘What wilt thou more? what canst thou crave?
Since she is as thou wouldst her have.
Then set this drivel out of door,        245
That in thy brains such tales doth pour,
Of absence, and of changes strange;
Send him to those that use to change:
For she is none I thee avow,
And well thou mayst believe me now.’        250
When Hope hath thus his reason said,
Lord! how I feel me well a-paid!
A new blood then o’erspreads my bones,
That all in joy I stand at ones.
My hands I throw to heav’n above,        255
And humbly thank the god of love;
That of his grace I should bestow
My love so well as I it owe.
And all the planets as they stand,
I thank them too with heart and hand;        260
That their aspects so friendly were,
That I should so my good will bear;
To you, that are the worthiest,
The fairest, and the gentleëst;
And best can say, and best can do        265
That ’longs, methinks, a woman to;
And therefore are most worthy far,
To be beloved as you are.
And so says Hope in all his tale,
Whereby he easeth all my bale.        270
For I believe, and think it true
That he doth speak or say of you.
And thus contented, lo! I stand
With that, that hope bears me in hand,
That you are mine, and shall so be.        275
Which hope I keep full sure in me,
As he, that all my comfort is.
On you alone, which are my bliss,
My pleasure chief, which most I find,
And e’en the whole joy of my mind.        280
And shall so be, until the death
Shall make me yield up life and breath.
Thus, good mine own, lo! here my trust
Lo! here my truth, and service just;
Lo! in what case for you I stand!        285
Lo! how you have me in your hand;
And if you can requite a man,
Requite me, as you find me than.
Note 1. Young brood. [back]
Note 2. Overpowered with sorrow. [back]
Note 3. In the early copies, “now to and low.” [back]
Note 4. Long since; printed ed. uneath. [back]

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