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My Lute, alas! doth not offend,
Though that perforce he must agree
To sound such tunes as I intend,

To sing to them that heareth me;
Then though my songs be somewhat plain,
And toucheth some that use to feign,

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My Lute and strings may not deny,

But as I strike they must obey; Break not them then so wrongfully,

But wreak thyself some other way; And though the songs which I indite, Do quit thy change with rightful spite, Blame not my Lute!

Spite asketh spite, and changing change,

And falsed faith, must needs be known;


The faults so great, the case so strange;
Of right it must abroad be blown :
Then since that by thine own desert
My songs do tell how true thou art,
Blame not my Lute!

Blame but thyself that hast misdone,
And well deserved to have blame;

Change thou thy way, so evil begone,

And then my Lute shall sound that same;

But if till then my fingers play,

By thy desert their wonted way,

Blame not my Lute!

Farewell! unknown; for though thou break
My strings in spite with great disdain,

Yet have I found out for thy sake,

Strings for to string my Lute again:

And if perchance this silly rhyme,
Do make thee blush at any time,

Blame not my Lute.

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[HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY, the eldest son of the Duke of Norfolk, was born in Suffolk, in 1516; and was educated at Windsor with a natural son of Henry VIII. He was greatly attached to that young man; and, after his premature death, travelled on the continent to heal his grief. He is celebrated for his chivalrous, but undoubtedly platonic love of the "Ladye Geraldine," daughter of Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare. He conducted an expedition sent to ravage the Scottish borders, with great success, in 1542. But an attempt which he was ordered to make on Boulogne, in 1544, being unfortunate, he fell under the displeasure of the merciless despot Henry VIII.; and, after a mock trial, was beheaded on Tower Hill in 1547; his real crime being his noble character as a gallant soldier, and most accomplished knight. He wrote the first English sonnets.]

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 son of Troy:

Where each sweet place returns a taste full sour!
The large green courts where we were wont to hove,

With eyes cast up into the Maiden 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,
With words and looks that tigers could but rue,
Where each of us did plead the other's right.

The palm-play, where, despoiled for the game,
With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love,

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Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame,
To bait her eyes, which kept the leads above.

The gravel ground, with sleeves tied on the helm

Of foaming horse, with swords and friendly hearts; With cheer, as though one should another whelm, Where we have fought, and chased oft with darts;

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,
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; With cry of hounds and merry blasts between, Where we did chase the fearful hart of force.

The wide vales, eke, that harboured us each night,
Wherewith, alas, reviveth in my breast,

The sweet accord such sleeps as yet delight,
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.

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,

Give me accounts, where is my noble fere; Whom in thy walls thou dost each night enclose; To other leef, but unto me most dear:

Echo, alas! that doth my sorrow rue,

Returns thereto a hollow sound of plaint. 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.

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