Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Lines Written in Imprisonment at Windsor
By Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–1547)
 
[Prisoned in Windsor, he recounteth his pleasure there passed.]

SO cruel prison how could betide, alas,
As proud Windsor? where I in lust and joy,
With a King’s son, my childish years did pass,
In greater feast than Priam’s sons of Troy.
Where each sweet place returns a taste full sour,        5
The large green courts, where we were wont to hove, 1
With eyes cast up into the maiden’s tower,
And easy sighs, such as folk draw in love.
The stately seats, the ladies bright of hue,
The dances short, long tales of great delight;        10
With words and looks, that tigers could but rue;
When each of us did plead the other’s right.
The palme-play 2 where, despoiled for the game,
With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love
Have missed the ball, and got sight of our dame,        15
To bait her eyes, which kept the leads above.
The gravelled ground, with sleeves tied on the helm,
On foaming horse, with swords and friendly hearts;
With cheer, as though one should another whelm,
When we have fought, and chased oft with darts;        20
With silver drops the mead yet spread for ruth,
In active games of nimbleness and strength,
Where we did strain, trained with swarms of youth,
Our tender limbs, that yet shot up in length.
The secret groves, which oft we made resound        25
Of pleasant plaint, and of our ladies’ praise;
Recording oft what grace each one had found,
What hope of speed, what dread of long delays.
The wild forest, the clothed holts with green;
With reins availed, and swift ybreathed horse,        30
With cry of hounds, and merry blasts between,
When we did chase the fearful hart of force.
The void walls eke, that harboured us each night:
Wherewith, alas! reviveth in my breast
The sweet accord, such sleeps as yet delight;        35
The pleasant dreams, the quiet bed of rest;—
The secret thoughts, imparted with such trust;
The wanton talk, the divers change of play;
The friendship sworn, each promise kept so just,
Wherewith we passed the winter night away.        40
And with this thought the blood forsakes the face;
The tears berain my cheeks of deadly hue:
The which, as soon as sobbing sighs, alas!
Upsupped have, thus I my plaint renew:
‘O place of bliss, renewer of my woes!        45
Give me account, where is my noble fere, 3
Whom in thy walls thou dost each night enclose,
To other lief, 4 but unto me most dear.’
Echo, alas! that doth my sorrow rue
Returns thereat a hollow sound of plaint.        50
Thus I alone, where all my freedom grew,
In prison pine, with bondage and restraint;
And with remembrance of the greater grief,
To banish the less, I find my chief relief.
 
Note 1. abide. [back]
Note 2. tennis. [back]
Note 3. companion. [back]
Note 4. dear. [back]
 
 
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