Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was an enormously influential sixteenth century poet although he died very young, at the age of thirty. He was an associate of another influential poet who died young, Sir Thomas Wyatt; their work was published alongside in Tottel’s Miscellany, the first printed anthology of English poetry. Henry Howard is credited with developing the Shakespearean form of the sonnet; however, he not only wrote verse, but he also translated some of Virgil’s Aeneid from Latin, in blank verse, which he, not Shakespeare introduced into English writing. A highly educated man, he also offered translations of the Psalms and the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Here is a sweet sonnet, which I am sure Wilfred Owen must have read as there are echoes in the first line of his poem,Futility, which begins ‘Move him into the sun…’
Set me whereas 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.