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.
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
Other poems by Henry Howard, earl of Surrey