Henry Earl of Surrey Howard Criticism - Essay

Frederick Morgan Padelford (essay date 1928)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Padelford, Frederick Morgan. “Surrey's Contribution to English Poetry.” In The Poems of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Revised Edition, pp. 44-55. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1928.

[In the following essay, Padelford analyzes Surrey's prosody, declaring that “Surrey's claims to distinction rest primarily upon his establishment of the Shakespeare sonnet and his introduction of blank verse.”]

In the history of English literature the name of Surrey is invariably linked with that of Sir Thomas Wyatt for these two men were the most distinguished poets of the early Renaissance school. Attentive readers of the contemporary French, Italian, and...

(The entire section is 4362 words.)

Ants Oras (essay date 1951)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Oras, Ants. “Surrey's Technique of Phonetic Echoes: A Method and Its Background.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 50 (1951): 289-308.

[In the following essay, Oras discusses Surrey's blank verse translation of the Aeneid, maintaining that the work is very likely the first use of blank verse in English.]


The opening lines of the Earl of Surrey's version of the second book of the Aeneid read as follows:1

They whisted all, with fixed face attent,
When prince Aeneas from the royal seat
Thus gan to speak: “O Quene! it is thy wil
I should renew a woe cannot be told,
How that the Grekes...

(The entire section is 8369 words.)

C. S. Lewis (essay date 1954)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Lewis, C. S. “Drab Age Verse.” In English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama, pp. 222-71. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954.

[In the following excerpt, Lewis explores the nature of the relationship between Surrey and Wyatt.]

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey,1 was in his twenties when Wyatt died and there is no doubt that he greatly admired Wyatt both as a poet and as a man. But the relation between them was not exactly that of master and pupil. Surrey saw Wyatt as one who had ‘dayly’ produced some famous work ‘to turne to Britains gayn’ and ‘taught what might be sayd in ryme’. Though they come in a poetical elegy (where a man...

(The entire section is 2160 words.)

Emrys Jones (essay date 1964)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Jones, Emrys. Introduction to Henry Howard Earl of Surrey: Poems, edited by Emrys Jones, pp. xi-xxv. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964.

[In the following essay, Jones provides an overview of Surrey's career as an innovative poet.]

In his History of English Poetry (1781) Thomas Warton pronounced Surrey ‘the first English classical poet’. For him the observation did not need justifying, it was self-evidently true; but today it may perplex. Literary history is attended with many difficulties: it is rarely possible to say of a writer that he is doing something quite new and that he is ushering in a new school. The sixteenth century presents a confused...

(The entire section is 5441 words.)

C. W. Jentoft (essay date summer 1973)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Jentoft, C. W. “Surrey's Four ‘Orations’ and the Influence of Rhetoric on Dramatic Effect.” Papers on Language & Literature 9, no. 3 (summer 1973): 250-62.

[In the following essay, Jentoft explains the reasons for the neglect of Surrey's poetry by twentieth-century scholars.]

The Earl of Surrey's modern critical reputation is a curious one: everyone knows about his poetry, but few have read it seriously, and fewer yet have read it approvingly. Its place in the development of English prosody requires a few paragraphs in any Renaissance survey, but its individual merits either go unnoticed or serve as foils to the very different virtues of poems...

(The entire section is 5474 words.)

Walter R. Davis (essay date winter 1974)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Davis, Walter R. “Contexts in Surrey's Poetry.” English Literary Renaissance 4, no. 1 (winter 1974): 40-55.

[In the following essay, Davis examines Surrey's “concern for wholeness, for singleness of effect” in his poetry.]

In his pioneering essay “The Art of Sir Thomas Wyatt,” Hallett Smith drew attention to Wyatt's superiority over Surrey by comparison of the former's “The longe love that in my thought doeth harbar” and the latter's “Love that doth raine and live within my thought,” both translations of Petrarch's “Amor, che nel penser” (CXL); Wyatt's superiority, he noted, lay in the greater clarity of his imagery and the forcefulness...

(The entire section is 6361 words.)

Alastair Fowler (essay date 1975)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Fowler, Alastair. “Surrey's Formal Style.” In Conceitful Thought: The Interpretation of English Renaissance Poems, pp. 21-37. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1975.

[In the following essay, Fowler studies formal structure in Surrey's poetry as a way of discovering possible indirect meanings in his verse.]

Most critics find the temperate region confusing and prefer to operate either in the hot zone of poetry as communication (saying) or the cool zone of poetry as artefact (making). The recently dominant schools of Formalist criticism appear to have gone in the latter direction. But appearances are a little deceptive. The New Critics, it is true, left...

(The entire section is 6600 words.)

Frederic B. Tromly (essay date fall 1980)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Tromly, Frederic B. “Surrey's Fidelity to Wyatt in ‘Wyatt Resteth Here.’” Studies in Philology 77, no. 4 (fall 1980): 376-87.

[In the following essay, Tromly discusses the importance of Surrey's elegy to Wyatt in understanding Surrey's body of work.]

Surrey's hour seems to have come round (again) at last. In recent years a number of studies have rehabilitated his reputation by removing him from Wyatt's steadily lengthening shadow.1 By dissociating the two poets, Surrey's admirers have made it difficult to continue to regard, or rather disregard, him as merely an incompetent Wyatt. Their insistence on Surrey's separate identity has allowed...

(The entire section is 4634 words.)

S. P. Zitner (essay date autumn 1983)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Zitner, S. P. “Truth and Mourning in a Sonnet by Surrey.” ELH 50, no. 3 (autumn 1983): 509-29.

[In the following essay, Zitner discusses Surrey's elegy to Thomas Clere, focusing particularly on his adaptation of the Italian sonnet form.]

Norfolk sprang thee, Lambeth holds thee dead,
Clere of the County of Cleremont though hight;
Within the wombe of Ormondes race thou bread,
And sawest thy cosine crowned in thy sight.
Shelton for love, Surrey for Lord thou chase:
Ay me, while life did last that league was tender;
Tracing whose steps thou sawest Kelsall blaze,
Laundersey burnt, and battered Bullen render.
At Muttrell gates, hopeles of all recure,
Thine Earle...

(The entire section is 8495 words.)

O. B. Hardison (essay date summer 1986)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Hardison, O. B. “Tudor Humanism and Surrey's Translation of the Aeneid.Studies in Philology 83, no. 3 (summer 1986): 237-60.

[In the following essay, Hardison credits Surrey with the invention of English blank verse.]

One of the more interesting facts about English blank verse is that it was invented. The evidence suggests that it was the result of a self-conscious effort by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, around 1540 to create a vernacular English form equivalent to the dactylic hexameter of classical epic and parallel to unrhymed continental forms such as Italian versi sciolti.

The background of this effort has been...

(The entire section is 9527 words.)

Stephen Guy-Bray (essay date June 1995)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Guy-Bray, Stephen. “‘We Two Boys Together Clinging’: The Earl of Surrey and the Duke of Richmond.” English Studies in Canada 21, no. 2 (June 1995): 138-50.

[In the following essay, Guy-Bray contends that “So crewel prison” is not just an elegy, as it is often classified, but also a love poem.]

“So crewell prison” is a useful poem for historians of English poetry: Surrey, always (and now perhaps primarily) associated with technical innovation, is said in this poem and in some others to be beginning the tradition of the English elegy. But this is not the only possible generic description. The classification of “So crewell prison” as an elegy...

(The entire section is 5973 words.)