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Short poem

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

From Tuscan Came my Lady's Worthy Race

              1From Tuscan came my lady's worthy race;
              2Fair Florence was sometime her ancient seat.
              3The western isle whose pleasant shore doth face
              4Wild Camber's cliffs, did give her lively heat.
              5Foster'd she was with milk of Irish breast;
              6Her sire an earl, her dame of princes' blood.
              7From tender years in Britain she doth rest
              8With a king's child, where she tastes ghostly food.
              9Hunsdon did first present her to mine eyen;
            10Bright is her hue, and Geraldine she hight;
            11Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine;
            12And Windsor, alas, doth chase me from her sight.
            13Beauty her mate, her virtues from above:
            14Happy is he that may obtain her love.


1] Tottel's title: "Description and praise of his loue Geraldine." Probably composed in 1537, while Surrey was briefly imprisoned at Windsor for striking a courtier within the royal grounds. Geraldine was Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a daughter of the Earl of Kildare. Born in Ireland ca. 1528, she was brought by her father to England in 1533. She married an old widower in 1543. Surrey's sonnet in her praise led to the fantastic legend that he was her lover. Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller, 1594, and Drayton's England's Heroical Epistles, 1598, spread and further expanded this legend until the lovers almost became an "English equivalent of Dante and Beatrice or of Petrarch and Laura" (H. E. Rollins ed., Songes and Sonettes, i.e., Tottel's Miscellany). This legend survived into the nineteenth century but has been definitely disproven by modern scholars.
Tuscan: Tuscany in Italy, the home of the Geraldi.

4] Camber: Cambria, Wales, whose cliffs are east of Ireland.

6] her dame of princes' blood. Geraldine's mother was the granddaughter of Edward IV's queen.

8] king's child: Princess Mary, later Mary Tudor, who lived at Hunsdon.
ghostly: spiritual.

10] hight: is named.

11] Hampton: Hampton Court, Henry VIII's residence.

13] Beauty her mate: so the MS.; Tottel: ''Her beauty of kind'' (kind=nature).

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 1.14.
Recent editing: 4:2002/5/29

Form: English Sonnet
Rhyme: ababcdcdefefgg

Other poems by Henry Howard, earl of Surrey