Verse > Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey > Poetical Works
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Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–47).  The Poetical Works.  1880.
 
Songs and Sonnets
An Answer in the behalf of a Woman. Of an uncertain Author
 
GIRT 1 in my guiltless gown, as I sit here and sow,
I see that things are not in deed, as to the outward show.
And who so list to look and note things somewhat near,
Shall find where plainness seems to haunt, nothing but craft appear.
For with indifferent eyes, myself can well discern,        5
How some to guide a ship in storms stick not 2 to take the stern;
Whose skill and courage tried 3 in calm to steer a barge,
They would soon shew, you should foresee, 4 it were too great a charge.
And some I see again sit still and say but small,
That can 5 do ten times more than they that say they can do all.        10
Whose goodly gifts are such, the more they understand,
The more they seek to learn and know, and take less charge in hand.
And to declare more plain, the time flits not so fast,
But I can bear right 6 well in mind the song now sung, and past;
The author whereof came, wrapt in a crafty cloak,        15
In 7 will to force a flaming fire where he could raise no smoke.
If power and will had met, 8 as it appeareth plain,
The 9 truth nor right had ta’en no place; their virtues had been vain.
So that you may perceive, and I may safely see,
The innocent that guiltless is, condemned should have be.        20
Much like untruth to this the story doth declare,
Where the Elders laid to Susan’s charge meet matter to compare.
They did her both accuse, and eke condemn her too,
And yet no reason, right, nor truth, did lead them so to do!
And she thus judg’d to die, toward her death went forth,        25
Fraughted with faith, a patient pace, taking her wrong in worth.
But he that doth defend all those that in him trust,
Did raise a child for her defence to shield her from th’ unjust.
And Daniel chosen was then of this wrong to weet,
How, in what place, and eke with whom she did this crime commit.        30
He caused the Elders part the one from th’ other’s sight,
And did examine one by one, and charg’d them both say right.
‘Under a mulberry tree it was;’ first said the one.
The next named a pomegranate tree, whereby the truth was known.
Then Susan was discharg’d, and they condemn’d to die,        35
As right requir’d, and they deserv’d, that fram’d so foul a lie.
And He that her preserv’d, and lett them of their lust,
Hath me defended hitherto, and will do still I trust.
 
Note 1. This poem was printed as in the text by Dr. Nott, from the Harrington MS., which alone contains the last eighteen lines. The variations between that copy and the printed editions are pointed out in the notes. The remark in Tottel’s Collection that it was by “an uncertain author” justifies a doubt whether it was written by Surrey. [back]
Note 2. seek for. [back]
Note 3. Whose practice if were proved. [back]
Note 4. Assuredly believe it well. [back]
Note 5. could. [back]
Note 6. full. [back]
Note 7. With. [back]
Note 8. Then. [back]
Note 9.  [back]
 
 
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