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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

VIII. The New English Poetry

§ 9. Thomas lord Vaux

Of the other contributors to Tottel’s Miscellany, only four are known by name: Nicholas Grimald, Thomas lord Vaux, John Heywood and Edward Somerset. Of these, the nearest to Wyatt and Surrey is lord Vaux, like them a courtier and trained in the spirit of chivalry. Only two of his poems appear in Tottel’s Miscellany: Thassault of Cupid upon the fort, which was probably suggested by Dunbar, and The aged lover renounceth love, the song of which the grave-digger in Hamlet is singing a corrupt version as he digs Ophelia’s grave. The Paradyse of Daynty Devises, which will be noticed later, contains the bulk of his surviving poetry; this falls into two main divisions: poetry of love and chivalry, and religious poetry. A brave, simple and musical writer, Vaux is among the best of the poets of his day. He is by no means free from the Petrarchian conceits favoured by his two forerunners; but his reflections on the brevity of life show a serious and devout mind, and possibly his best poem is When I look back, in which he craves the forgiveness of God fo the faults and follies of youth. John Heywood is better known as a playwright than as a lyrical poet; the single poem which appears in Tottel’s Miscellany is a not unpleasing description of the physical and moral charms of his lady, in a style which became exceedingly common. For chastity, she is Diana, for truth, Penelope; after making her, nature lost the mould, and so forth. But the freshness has not yet worn off such statements, and the poem not only has a natural sweetness about it, but contains one of the few simple references to country things which are to be found in the volume. Somerset’s contribution is entitled The pore estate to be holden for best, and merely states, in two septets of rimed twelve-syllabled lines, a favourite commonplace with these authors. The fact that the first letters of the lines with the last letter of the last line make up the author’s name, is significant of artificiality.