The busy bee in the soote season

I wrote this a couple of years ago, but thought I would share it again…

Language is forever changing and evolving, and as new words arrive older words soemtimes fade away and are lost; however sometimes when you come across a ‘lost’ word, the context brings it back to life again. In this sonnet by Henry Howard, you might at first think ‘the soote season’ is winter, when fires are lit and skies are dark, but when you read the first line ‘The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings’, it’s not too difficult to see that soote must mean something else, soft maybe, or sweet, or a word like soothing. ‘Eke’ we know as meaning to extend as in ‘eke out something’ and so in the second line eke might mean that the greenness of spring spreads out over the valley. There are other words too… but I think they are easy to understand… do you agree?

The Soote Season

The soote 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 make 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 brake his winter coat he flings;
The fishes flete with new repaired scale;
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flyes smale;
The busy bee her honey now she mings,
Winter is worn that was the flowers’ bale.
And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.

Henry Howard was the Earl of Surrey, born in 1517, and died at the age of thirty in 1547.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.