Thursday, 30 May 2013

Come Me Hither I, to Die

Good people of this Christian land,
Here before you now I stand
And come me hither I, to die,
For by the law condemned am I,
And not a word in protest muttered,
Let not a ‘treachery’ be uttered,
These lands demand my soul depart,
By pain of death and soundless heart.

For at thy King’s pleasure, ‘tis true,
I soon, to take my leave of you,
I pass not blame, nor beg for life,
This loyal servant, faithful wife,
No longer hath a use on earth,
Couldst not carry your heir to birth,
But God save your most mighty king,
And cease me now of thy ageing.
Please send him strength to reign for all,
For no prince is more merciful,
And to me he was thus adored,
A gentle and most humble lord.

(But shouldst thou meddle of my cause
Judge me upon thy fairest laws,
For many hath a lie been spread
That shall not cease when I am dead).

And thus, I take leave of the world,
Here turn your heads as I’m unfurled.
I ask you, please, most heartily,
Desire that you pray for me.
Oh lord, save me from demon fire,
For to your judgment I expire,
I plead forgiveness in your toll
And beg for mercy on my soul.

Dear swordsman, please, your stroke be true
And let my wretched life be through.

Copyright © 2013 by Simon Austin

Based on the final speech made by Anne Boleyn moments before her execution 19th May 1536.

Anne Boleyn was Queen of England from 28th May 1533 until her execution, 19th May 1536. This poem is based on the final speech made by Anne Boleyn from the scaffold, to the crowd at the Tower of London, the full speech read:

"Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul."
Accused of adultery, incest, and high treason, Anne protested her innocence. Many historians today believe her crimes had no basis, and that she was potentially the victim of a plot to remove her from Henry VIII favour after her failed attempts to provide him with a male heir (which had become Henry's obsession) and in order for him to pursue Jane Seymour, whom he married one day after Anne's execution. Anne was buried in an unmarked grave.

Henry never had the son he so desired - and after 6 wives, two of whom he had beheaded (Anne Boleyn and the 18 year old Catherine Howard) his final legacy was continued by Anne's daughter Elizabeth (to become Elizabeth I) who ruled for 45 years and brought stability and prosperity back to the realm.

Following the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation and has been called "the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had". Her skeleton was identified during renovations of the chapel in 1876, in the reign of Queen Victoria, and Anne's resting place is now marked in the marble floor.