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 [detail], attributed to John de Critz