Friday, November 18, 2011

"The Ballad Which Anne Askew Made and Sang When She Was in Newgate" by Anne Askew

The Ballad Which Anne Askew Made and Sang When She Was in Newgate

Like as the armèd knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight,
And faith shall be my shield.
    Faith is that weapon strong
Which will not fail at need;
My foes therefore among
Therewith will I proceed.
    As it is had in strength
And force of Christ’s way,
It will prevail at length
Though all the devils say nay.
    Faith in the father’s old
Obtainèd righteousness
Which make me very bold
To fear no world’s distress.
    I now rejoice in heart
And hope bid me do so,
For Christ will take my part
And ease me of my woe.
    Thou sayst lord, who so kneck,
To them wilt thou attend;
Undo therefore the lock
And thy strong power send.
    More enemies now I have
Than hairs upon my head
Let them not me deprave,
But fight thou in my stead.
    On thee my care I cast
For all their cruel spite
I set not by their haste,
For thou art my delight.
    I am not she that list
My anchor to let fall
For every drizzling mist
My ship substantial.
    Not oft use I to write
In prose, nor yet in rhyme,
Yet will I show one sight
That I saw in my time.
    I saw a royal throne
Where Justice should have sit,
But in her stead was one
Of modie cruel wit.
    Absorbed was rightwiseness
As of the raging flood;
Satan in his excess
Sucked up the guiltless blood.
    Then thought I, Jesus lord,
When thou shall judge us all,
Hard is it to record
On these men what will fall.
    Yet lord I thee desire
For that they do to me,
Let them not taste the hire
Of their iniquity.

Source of the text – The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 5th edition, edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, pp. 140-141.

Bourguignomicon: Martyrdom in anapests. The poet leaves unchallenged her veneer of righteous courage, addressing her lord & pretend-ignoring her persecutors.

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