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Anne Boleyn Poems

It is said that Anne Boleyn wrote the following two poems while in the Tower of London awaiting her execution. We do not know for definite that she wrote these poems, but they are traditionally assigned to her:-

“Defiled is my name full sore
Through cruel spite and false report,
That I may say for evermore,
Farewell, my joy! Adieu comfort!
For wrongfully ye judge of me
Unto my fame a mortal wound,
Say what ye list, it will not be,
Ye seek for that can not be found.”

The next poem has also been set to music, see link at end:-

O Death, O Death, rock me asleepe,
Bring me to quiet rest;
Let pass my weary guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast.
Toll on, thou passing bell;

Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy.

My pains, my pains, who can express?
Alas, they are so strong!
My dolours will not suffer strength
My life for to prolong.
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy.

Alone, alone in prison strong
I wail my destiny:
Woe worth this cruel hap that I
Must taste this misery!
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy.

Farewell, farewell, my pleasures past!
Welcome, my present pain!
I feel my torment so increase
That life cannot remain.
Cease now, thou passing bell,
Ring out my doleful knoll,
For thou my death dost tell:
Lord, pity thou my soul!
Death doth draw nigh,
Sound dolefully:
For now I die,
I die, I die.

For an mp3 of the music, see http://www.leonarda.com/le340.html – halfway down, under 16th and 17th Century Songs.

Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt wrote a poem about Anne’s execution, which he witnessed from the Tower of London’s Bell Tower:-

“V. Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me inimici mei”

Who list his wealth and ease retain,
Himself let him unknown contain.
Press not too fast in at that gate
Where the return stands by disdain,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

The high mountains are blasted oft
When the low valley is mild and soft.
Fortune with Health stands at debate.
The fall is grievous from aloft.
And sure, circa Regna tonat.

These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The Bell Tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

circa Regna tonat” means “it thunders through the realms”.

(Source of poems: “Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen” by Joana Denny)

Another poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt, which is said to be about Anne Boleyn, is:-

“Whoso List to Hunt”

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

An anthology of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s poems is available – click here for US and click here for UK and Europe.

More Anne Boleyn Poetry

Esther Hyams, an Anne Boleyn Files visitor, is writing a series of poems about Anne Boleyn’s life – click here to read her first poem “Little Nan.

5 Responses to “Anne Boleyn Poems”

  1. BoleynChild says:

    Wow.. the first poem that is linked to Anne (I switched words around so they appeared more moderate), proves Anne’s innocence. (This is what came to mind when I read it outloud):

    “Impure is my tender name
    Through cruelness and false accusations
    that I say for evermore,
    Goodbye my joy! So long my comfort!
    For you have wrongfully judged me
    And caused me fatal wounds
    Say what you like, it will never be true
    You seek what cannot be found.”

    I hope it’s good.. :)

    [Reply]

    Lyn Reply:

    Nice ,

    Can I borrow it and repost it.
    Thanks

    [Reply]

  2. Agnes says:

    Hi everyone!
    I had the idea of doing an essay about the figure of anne boleyn described in the poems of her contemporaries.. i read some poems by Wyatt which are said to be related to her but i couldn’t find any other poem. Is that possible? I mean.. really aren’t there other contemporary poems that refer to her?
    i apologize for my english, i’m italian =)
    Thank you!

    [Reply]

  3. joann spears says:

    My dad tells me AB’s Tower poetry was the subject of ‘Jeopardy’s final question tonight, here in the states. Dad was proud he guessed AB correctly. I flubbed it and called QEI.

    [Reply]

  4. Cathy Coffey says:

    I have been told all my life I am an heir to Ann my maiden name is Webster

    [Reply]

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