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Short poem

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

The Golden Gift that Nature did thee Give

              1The golden gift that Nature did thee give
              2To fasten friends and feed them at thy will
              3With form and favour, taught me to believe
              4How thou art made to show her greatest skill,
              5Whose hidden virtues are not so unknown
              6But lively dooms might gather at the first:
              7Where beauty so her perfect seed hath sown
              8Of other graces follow needs there must.
              9Now certes, lady, since all this is true,
            10That from above thy gifts are thus elect,
            11Do not deface them then with fancies new,
            12Nor change of minds let not thy mind infect,
            13But mercy him, thy friend, that doth thee serve,
            14Who seeks alway thine honour to preserve.


1] Tottel's title: "Request to his loue to ioyne bountie with beautie."

3] form and favour: i.e., beauty.

4] The conceit of Nature showing forth her greatest skill in a beautiful woman was a commonplace in the Renaissance.

6] lively dooms: alert judges, men of insight.

9] certes: certainly.

12] change of minds: changefulness, caprice.

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