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Short poem

Henry Howard, earl of Surrey (1517?-1547)

Certain Books of Virgil's {AE}neis: Book II


              1     They whisted all, with fixed face attent,
              2When Prince Æneas from the royal seat
              3Thus gan to speak: O Queen, it is thy will
              4I should renew a woe cannot be told,
              5How that the Greeks did spoil and overthrow
              6The Phrygian wealth and wailful realm of Troy;
              7Those ruthful things that I myself beheld,
              8And whereof no small part fell to my share;
              9Which to express, who could refrain from tears?
            10What Myrmidon? or yet what Dolopes?
            11What stern Ulysses' waged soldier?
            12And lo! moist night now from the welkin falls,
            13And stars declining counsel us to rest.
            14But since so great is thy delight to hear
            15Of our mishaps and Troyës last decay,
            16Though to record the same my mind abhors
            17And plaint eschews, yet thus will I begin.

            18     The Greekës chieftains, all irk'd with the war,
            19Wherein they wasted had so many years,
            20And oft repuls'd by fatal destiny,
            21A huge horse made, high raised like a hill,
            22By the divine science of Minerva,--
            23Of cloven fir compacted were his ribs,--
            24For their return a feigned sacrifice,--
            25The fame whereof so wander'd it at point.
            26In the dark bulk they clos'd bodies of men,
            27Chosen by lot, and did enstuff by stealth
            28The hollow womb with armed soldiers.

            29     There stands in sight an isle hight Tenedon,
            30Rich and of fame while Priam's kingdom stood,
            31Now but a bay and road unsure for ship.
            32Hither them secretly the Greeks withdrew,
            33Shrouding themselves under the desert shore;
            34And weening we they had been fled and gone,
            35And with that wind had fet the land of Greece,
            36Troy{:e} discharg'd her long continued dole.
            37The gates cast up, we issued out to play,
            38The Greekish camp desirous to behold,
            39The places void and the forsaken coasts.
            40Here Pyrrhus' band, there fierce Achilles', pight;
            41Here rode their ships, there did their battles join.
            42Astonied some the scathful gift beheld,
            43Behight by vow unto the chaste Minerve,
            44All wond'ring at the hugeness of the horse.
            45And first of all Timœtes gan advise
            46Within the walls to lead and draw the same,
            47And place it eke amid the palace court,--
            48Whether of guile, or Troyes fate it would.
            49Capys, with some of judgment more discreet,
            50Will'd it to drown, or underset with flame,
            51The suspect present of the Greek's deceit,
            52Or bore and gauge the hollow caves uncouth;
            53So diverse ran the giddy people's mind.

            54     Lo! foremost of a rout that follow'd him,
            55Kindled Laöcoön hasted from the tower,
            56Crying far off: "O wretched citizens,
            57What so great kind of frenzy fretteth you?
            58Deem ye the Greeks, our enemies, to be gone?
            59Or any Greekish gifts can you suppose
            60Devoid of guile? Is so Ulysses known?
            61Either the Greeks are in this timber hid,
            62Or this an engine is to annoy our walls,
            63To view our towers, and overwhelm our town.
            64Here lurks some craft. Good Troyans, give no trust
            65Unto this horse, for, whatsoever it be,
            66I dread the Greeks, yea, when they offer gifts."



1] First published, along with Book IV, by Richard Tottel in 1557. The translation is in unrhymed iambic pentameter--the first appearance of blank verse in English literature. Surrey may have been influenced by an unrhymed Italian translation of Book II of the Æneidpublished at Venice in 1540.
whisted: became silent.

10] Myrmidon ... Dolopes. The Myrmidons were the soldiers of Achilles, the Dolopes the soldiers of Neoptolemus.

11] waged: hired.

12] welkin: heavens.

15] Troyës: ME. possessive form.

18] Greekës: ME plural form.
irk'd: wearied.

22] Minerva: goddess of wisdom.

25] at point: exactly.

29] hight: is called.
Tenedon: Tenedos, an island in the Aegean. Surrey uses the accusative form.

31] road: anchorage.

34] weening we: we thinking.

35] fet: fetched; i.e., arrived at.

36] dole: grief.

40] pight: pitched their tents.

41] battles: armies in battle array.

42] scathful: hurtful.

43] behight: promised.

52] uncouth: unknown, unexplored.

57] fretteth: consumeth.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Nott, George Fred., ed. The Works of Henry Howard earl of Surrey and of Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder. London: Longman, 1815-16. 2 vols. PR 2370 A1 1815 ROBA.
First publication date: 1557
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger
RP edition: 3RP 1.19.
Recent editing: 4:2002/5/29

Form: blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter)

Other poems by Henry Howard, earl of Surrey