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The Soote Season

July 28, 2016
The Soote Season

The soote season, that bud and blome furth bringes,
With grene hath clad the hill and eke the vale:
The nightingale with fethers new she singes:
The turtle to her make hath tolde her tale:
Somer is come, for euery spray nowe springes,
The hart hath hong his olde hed on the pale:
The buck in brake his winter cote he flinges:
The fishes flote with newe repaired scale:
The adder all her sloughe awaye she slinges:
The swift swalow pursueth the flyes smale:
The busy bee her honye now she minges:

Winter is worne that was the flowers bale:
And thus I see among these pleasant thinges
Eche care decayes, and yet my sorow springes.

–Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey  ~1545
COMMENTARY: This is a conventional enough June-is-the-cruelest-month song, (among summer poems, it reminds me of “Summor is ycumen” (which includes, besides other bits of bucolia, a farting billy goat)), I came across it earlier today when a sympathetic sorry brought Surrey into my head. So here it is.
Surrey, along with his acquaintance Thomas Wyatt (who, like Surrey, had bad dealings with Henry VIII (due to Anne Boleyne) and narrowly escaped the gallows that Surrey didn’t))) is credited with bringing the sonnet form from Italian to English. While his model Petrarch put the volta (pivot, hinge) after the 8th line, Surrey, in this poem and others, put after the twelfth. The closing couplet, with its spring-wire reversal from description to lament, provides the basic model for the gg-punchline of Shakespeare’s cycle.

From → Nature, Uncategorized

One Comment
  1. This is actually one of Surrey’s translations of Petrarch. It’s also worth noting that Surrey’s the first poet to write in blank verse. He was executed by Henry, but not over anything to do with Anne Boleyn, who’d already been executed.

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