London, hast thou Accused me
Nott, George Fred., ed. The Works of Henry Howard earl of Surrey and of Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder. London: Longman, 1815-16. 2 vols. PR 2370 A1 1815 ROBA.
2Of breach of laws, the root of strife?
4So fervent hot, thy dissolute life,
5That even the hate of sins that grow
6Within thy wicked walls so rife,
9The which, by words since preachers know
11By unknown means it liked me
12My hidden burden to express,
13Whereby it might appear to thee
14That secret sin hath secret spite;
15From justice' rod no fault is free;
16But that all such as work unright
17In most quiet are next ill rest.
18In secret silence of the night
19This made me, with a reckless breast,
20To wake thy sluggards with my bow--
22Whose scourge for sin the Scriptures show.
23That, as the fearful thunder-clap
24By sudden flame at hand we know,
25Of pebble-stones the soundless rap
26The dreadful plague might make thee see
27Of God's wrath that doth thee enwrap;
29How lofty works may her defend;
30And envy find, as he hath sought,
31How other seek him to offend;
32And wrath taste of each cruel thought
34And idle sloth, that never wrought,
35To heaven his spirit lift may begin;
36And greedy lucre live in dread
37To see what hate ill-got goods win;
38The lechers, ye that lusts do feed,
39Perceive what secrecy is in sin;
40And gluttons' hearts for sorrow bleed,
41Awaked, when their fault they find:
44Thy windows had done me no spite;
48But wrested to wrath in fervent zeal,
49Thou haste to strife, my secret call.
50Endured hearts no warning feel.
51O shameless whore, is dread then gone
52By such thy foes as meant thy weal?
53O member of false Babylon!
54The shop of craft, the den of ire!
55Thy dreadful doom draws fast upon;
56Thy martyrs' blood, by sword and fire,
57In heaven and earth for justice call.
58The Lord shall hear their just desire;
59The flame of wrath shall on thee fall;
61Stricken shall be thy lechers all;
62Thy proud towers and turrets high,
63En'mies to God, beat stone from stone,
64Thine idols burnt that wrought iniquity;
65When none thy ruin shall bemoan,
66But render unto the right wise Lord
67That so hath judged Babylon,
68Immortal praise with one accord.
1] First printed by Nott in 1816. Probably written in 1543, when Surrey and some of his boon companions were committed to Fleet Prison on the double charge of eating meat during Lent and of walking in "a lewd and unseemly manner" "in the night about the streets and breaking with stonebows of certain windows" (Acts of the Privy Council, spelling modernized). See line 20. The satire is of course mock-serious. Back to Line
3] Within whose breast: Surrey's own. Back to Line
7] For to break ... That: so turned me to break forth that even. Back to Line
8] terror: fear of retribution. Back to Line
10] I.e., no hope. Back to Line
21] Cf. Isaiah 47 and Jeremiah 51:3. Back to Line
28] The seven deadly sins are pride (28), envy (30), wrath (32), sloth (34), covetousness or lucre (36), lechery (38), and gluttony (40). Back to Line
33] shapp: imagine, conceive. Back to Line
42] wight: person. Back to Line
43] mind: intention. Back to Line
45] Cf. Revelation 18. Back to Line
46] falsehood: MS. "falshed." Back to Line
47] thy wall: London was a walled city at this time. Back to Line
60] pest: plague. Back to Line
Publication Start Year:
RPO poem Editors:
F. D. Hoeniger