The Aeneid

Surrey's Innovations and Achievements in His Aeneid

Elizabeth Smith

Professor Colin Dickey

Eng 640

22 October, 2006

Surrey's Innovations and Achievements in His Aeneid

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, is credited as the inventor of English blank verse. In addition to this, he translated books II and IV of Virgil's1 Latin epic the Aeneid. This paper will endeavor to show what an accomplishment this was for a poet of the age of King Henry VIII, and how different and modern blank verse, and the work of translation that was couched in that blank verse, was from the rest of the poetry of the time.

Much has been written in past centuries about the quality of Surrey's poetry. Until the 20th century, Surrey was considered a better poet than his near-contemporary, (though Wyatt was older, and outlived him) Sir Thomas Wyatt (Schmidt 125). Surrey's reputation has slipped considerably, and his style of poetry, considered "conventional" and not always coherent, is now said to "please rather than move us" (125). His Aeneid, however, is considered "subtly conceived and executed with exemplary plainness, a verse direct and transparent, displaying its matter rather than its manner," (128) but it is also said that it only "makes a fair attempt to imitate...

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