Thursday, April 15, 2010

Queen Elizabeth I's verse response to Ralegh

[Elizabeth to Ralegh]

Ah, silly Pug, wert thou so sore afraid?
Mourn not, my Wat, nor be thou so dismayed.
It passeth fickle Fortune's power and skill
To force my heart to think thee any ill.
No Fortune base, thou sayest, shall alter thee?
And may so blind a witch so conquer me?
No, no, my Pug, though Fortune were not blind,
Assure thyself she could not rule my mind.
Fortune, I know, sometimes doth conquer kings,
And rules and reigns on earth and earthly things,
But never think Fortune can bear the sway
If virtue watch, and will her not obey.
Ne chose I thee by fickle Fortune's rede,
Ne she shall force me alter with such speed
[                                                        ]
But if to try this mistress' jest with thee.
Pull up thy heart, suppress thy brackish tears,
Torment thee not, but put away thy fears.
Dead to all joys and living unto woe,
Slain quite by her that ne'er gave wise men blow,
Revive again and live without all dread,
The less afraid, the better thou shalt speed.

TJB Note: It is likely that a line is missing before line 15, "But if to try..." although some have argued that the poet intended a rhyming triplet.  The sense of line 15, unlike the rest of the poem, is unclear.  It is also possible [though less likely] that many lines are missing.

Source of the text - Elizabeth I: Collected Works, edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, pp. 308-309.

TJB: How can an absolute monarch impress subjects with wit? After 7 brilliant, engaging rebuke-couplets, a line is missing then the poem fizzles.

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