Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey’s “Brittle Beauty”

“The Poet Henry Howard, Lord of Surrey” by Hans Holbein, c. 1542

In this week’s “Poem of the Week” by Carol Rumen in the Guardian Poetry Section, she showcases Henry Howard’s sonnet, “Brittle Beauty” ( Read the sonnet and Guardian article here ).

I enjoyed watching the BBC television series, “The Tudors”.  In season 3,  a young Henry Howard played by the actor, Owen Day-Jones makes his appearance, and reappears in season 4 as an older, De-Niro-esque, Godfather-sounding Howard played by the actor, David O’Hara. Howard’s first cousin was the tragically fated Anne Boleyn. It was Howard, along with his friend, Sir Thomas Wyatt, who were the first English poets to write in the sonnet form, Howard was the first English poet to write in blank verse in his translations of the second and fourth books of Virgil’s Aeneid. Both translated Petrarch’s sonnets into English, and because of this, they became known as the “Fathers of the English Sonnet”. On January 19, 1542, Howard was beheaded on orders from Henry VIII for treason.

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