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Selected Poetry of Henry VIII, king of England (1491-1547)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Image of  Henry VIII, king of England

Index to poems

I pray you all that aged be,
How well did ye your youth carry?
        (Though some Saith that Youth Ruleth me, 6-7)
  1. Green Groweth the Holly
  2. If Love now Reigned as it hath been
  3. Lusty Youth should us ensue
  4. Passtime with good company
  5. Though some Saith that Youth Ruleth me
  6. Though that Men do Call it Dotage
  7. The Time of Youth is to be Spent


Notes on Life and Works

Second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509 very young and united the houses of York and Lancaster, the white and red roses. Having been tutored by the poet John Skelton, and entrusting government for the first decade of his reign to Cardinal Wolsey, the young king devoted himself to scholarship, writing songs, court revels, music, hunting, riding, and jousting. Although married to his deceased brother's widow Catherine of Aragon, Henry enjoyed the love of other women. His songs appear to date ca. 1509-20. At least one of them, "Lusty Youth should us ensure," is from a court play. By valuing poetry, the first English Renaissance prince set an example for later court poets, such as Wyatt and Surrey. After a notorious adult life in which he broke from Rome, divorced one wife after another in the search for someone who could bring him a male heir, Henry died in 1547, survived by two wives, Anne of Cleves and Katharine Parr, and three children who would rule England until 1603: the weak Edward VI and two astonishing women, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

The portrait is of "Henry in early manhood, artist unknown. (Formerly in the collection of H. Clifford Smith. Sold at Sotheby's, Feb. 1959.)" (J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII [London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968], figure 2, opposite p. 34).

Biographical information

Given name:
Family name: Henry VIII, king of England
Birth date: 1491
Death date: 1547