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Short poem

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

The Frailty and Hurtfulness of Beauty

              1Brittle beauty, that nature made so frail,
              2Whereof the gift is small, and short the season;
              3Flow'ring today, tomorrow apt to fail,
              4Tickle treasure, abhorrèd of reason;
              5Dangerous to deal with, vain, of none avail,
              6Costly in keeping, past not worth two peason;
              7Slipper in sliding, as is an eelës tail,
              8Hard to obtain, once gotten, not geason;
              9Jewel of jeopardy that peril doth assail,
            10False and untrue, enticèd oft to treason,
            11Enemy to youth; that most may I bewail.
            12Ah, bitter sweet, infecting as the poison,
            13    Thou farest as fruit that with the frost is taken,
            14    Today ready ripe, tomorrow all to-shaken.


1] Tottel prints as Surrey's poem but it is assigned to Lord Vaux in British Library Add. MS. 28635.

4] Tickle: delicate.

6] peason: peas. A later spelling of the Middle English plural pesen.

8] geason: rare.

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: Songes and Sonettes (London: Tottel, 1557). Facs. edn. (Leeds: Scolar, 1966). PR 1205 T6 1966 Victoria College Library
First publication date: 1557
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP 1.86.
Recent editing: 4:2002/5/29

Form: Sonnet
Rhyme: ababababababcc

Other poems by Henry Howard, earl of Surrey