Thursday, November 19, 2015

Timothy Spearman writes

The Seduction of the Queen's Handmaiden

[an excerpt from"The Lunatic, The Lover, and the Poet"]

The too pliant ear of irresolution
resists the advances of the suitor
Who doth wend through darkened wood
And bends in river to thy berth,
Where minstrels attend the heavens
To hearken to the choir of angels
That fly between constellations
As squirrels jump from limb to limb.


The resolute suitor doth trespass
At the threshold of the apartments
Of her Royal Majesty a Fairy Queen,
With no more thought to the safety
Of his head than that of his purse.
He would sooner see both get cut
From his person as fruit from limb,
Than live another day in the safety
Of a whole and entire work or body.


I would risk life and limb to spend
One more blink in thy glad presence
For thou art to me more fit company
Than all the mockingbirds of court
That mimic each other's false song
With praise too flattering sweet
To be a true expression of a heart.


Thy words drip from thy tender lips
Like a true songbird or nightingale
Rather than the mocking mockingbird
Tempting me to taste the soft lips
That do utter such flowery phrases
As do cause a maiden's tender bosom
To swell to the strains of a song.


I swear to thee on this fair night
As owls of the forest bear witness
That I'll honour thee with my vows
As the wind honours the tree limbs
With the promises of its whispers.
Thou shalt hear my voice echoing
With solemn vows of love as true
As a bee's perennial visits
To spring flowers to gather pollen.


Thy words leave me as breathless
To respond as the glassy surface
Of a pond that stirs not beneath
The reverent wind of lazy spring.
Yet my breast swells with desire
Betraying the oaths of my bosom,
Which the modesty of woman tries
Not too hastily to disclose.

Thou art as quick to the chase
As a predator eagle to its prey.
I feel as helpless in thy talons
As a mouse in a hawk's clutches.
Yet I surrender to thy advances
As easily as a chick receives food
Dispensed from its mother's beak.
I feed on thy offering of kisses
As pliantly as a swallow swallows
To fill the internal hollows.

 Anne Vavasour, Lord Oxford’s girlfriend whom he got pregnant when he ...
 Anne Vavasour [detail], attributed to John de Critz

1 comment:

  1. Anne Vavasour became one of Elizabeth I's ladies of the bedchamber. Shortly after her arrival at court, she became the mistress of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who was separated from his wife, Anne Cecil, the daughter of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, the queen's most trusted adviser. (In Timothy's screenplay, Oxford is Elizabeth's illegitimate son.) After Anne gave birth to their son, Elizabeth had them imprisoned in the Tower of London. Oxford was released several months later but was banished from court for several months more. An anonymous poem, ."Visions of a Fair Maid, with Echo-Verses," or "Ann Vavasour's Echo," has been attributed to both of them:

    Sitting alone upon my thought in melancholy mood,
    In sight of sea, and at my back an ancient hoary wood,
    I saw a fair young lady come, her secret fears to wail,
    Clad all in colour of a nun, and covered with a veil;
    Yet (for the day was calm and clear) I might discern her face,
    As one might see a damask rose hid under crystal glass.

    Three times, with her soft hand, full hard on her left side she knocks,
    And sigh'd so sore as might have mov'd some pity in the rocks;
    From sighs and shedding amber tears into sweet song she brake,
    When thus the echo answered her to every word she spake:

    "Oh heavens! who was the first that bred in me this fever?
    Who was the first that gave the wound whose fear I wear for ever?
    What tyrant, Cupid, to my harm usurps thy golden quiver?
    What sight first caught this heart and can from bondage it deliver?

    Yet who doth most adore this sight, oh hollow caves tell true?
    What nymph deserves his liking best, yet doth in sorrow rue?
    What makes him not reward good will with some reward or ruth?
    What makes him show besides his birth, such pride and such untruth?

    May I his favour match with love, if he my love will try?
    May I requite his birth with faith ? Then faithful will I die?

    And I, that knew this lady well,
    Said, Lord how great a miracle,
    To her how Echo told the truth,
    As true as Phoebus' oracle.


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