Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey were sixteenth-century politicians and poets who brought many important innovations to English poetry. Wyatt traveled to places like Italy and France and was inspired by their writing, particularly the work of Petrarch. He came back to England and introduced the sonnet, which transformed English writing forever. He altered the Italian approach to the sonnet by making it more about a direct expression of emotion rather than full of complex allegories. He also brought new rhyming structures from Italy, like ottava rima, a form of rhyming for long poems that is structured ababcc, and terza rima, the structure that is aba, bcb, cdc, and so on. Surrey also wrote sonnets in English that modified traditional Italian structures and introduced blank verse to England in his translation of Vergil’s Aeneid.
Wyatt was also known for his strong satire used to critique society. For example, he satirized the materialistic values of the court life he knew so well. Surrey focused on celebrating the natural world and themes like love and youth. They both are known for their powerful use of emotion and praised for paving the way for the development of English poetry and bringing it into a golden age.