earl of Surrey (ca. 1543) Surrey's "Love that doth reign and live within my thought" is a translation of Petrarch's sonnet 140 of Canzoniere. In translating Petrarch's SoNNET, Surrey has changed the rhyme to take the English sonnet form.
In the first quatrain, the speaker declares how the personified Love has conquered and consumed his body. Now Love, quite physically, lives in the speaker's thought and breast. Love has erected a banner on the speaker's face. In the second quatrain, the female beloved objects to such open display of love on the speaker's face, and she looks angrily at the speaker and Love. In the sestet, Love retreats from the speaker's face and hides in his heart. The speaker notes that he is suffering because of Love's boldness, yet he will not leave his fallen lord, Love but, instead, is happy to die at his master's side.
Surrey's translation uses several Petrarchan images that became fashionable in poetic representations of love. The simile of "love as a battlefield," is central to Petrarchanism. Words like captive, arms, banner, and coward create a military confrontation between Love and the beloved woman in which the speaker suffers. The beloved as "cruel fair" is a related Petrarchan idea. The object of affection inspires both desire and terror with her gaze. The lover may feel desire but must refrain from any outward show of it; here, the speaker unfairly suffers the withering gaze of his beloved when in fact it is the personified Love who is boldly showing himself, although the beloved is not likely to accept that excuse.
Surrey uses fairly regular iambic pentameter in this poem, although some lines begin with a trochee before
returning to iambs: "Clad in the arms . . ."; "Sweet is the death" (ll. 3 and 14). Most lines are smooth, predictable, and composed of 10 syllables, especially when compared to Sir Thomas Wyatt's "The Long Love that in my Thought Doth Harbor," which is a translation of the same Petrarch sonnet. Surrey's translation puts a greater emphasis on Love as martial conqueror. His Love "reign[s] and live[s]" in the speaker's thought, while Wyatt's Love merely "harbors" in his thought; Surrey's Love has a "seat" in the speaker's "captive breast," while Wyatt's Love keeps "his residence" in the speaker's "heart."
The Petrarchan ideal of the lover languishing in and reveling in unswerving service to a cruel mistress is well illustrated in the final line of Surrey's sonnet: "Sweet is the death that taketh end by love." Wyatt's translation uses life as the operative word in the final line, and he uses the more neutral good instead of sweet: "For good is the life ending faithfully." Surrey's translation puts a somewhat greater emphasis on the pain and pleasure of the Petrarchan lover's pose, even as his more regular pentameter lines may suggest more artifice than emotion.
See also personification; Surrey, Henry Howard,
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