Sunday, March 13, 2016
Sunday Poetry - Lady Margaret Douglas
However, in 1535, when Margaret was 20 years old, she fell in love with Lord Thomas Howard, half-brother of the Duke of Norfolk & uncle of Anne Boleyn. The couple went through a form of pre-contract, at that time almost as binding as marriage, without the King's knowledge or consent. When Henry discovered this, he was furious & imprisoned them in the Tower. Although Thomas was an ambitious man who could see the advantages of marrying the King's niece who was so near to the throne, they do seem to have been genuinely in love. The evidence is in the form of a manuscript book of poems, known as the Devonshire Manuscript, many of them considered to have been written by the couple during their imprisonment. It seems that they were able to communicate because the poems often echo each other as if they were exchanges of letters && most of the poems were transcribed by Thomas.
The story has a sad ending but not the usual ending for royal women imprisoned in the Tower & the men who aspired to marry them. Margaret was freed in 1537 & restored to Henry's favour. Thomas, however, died of a fever during his imprisonment.
This is one of Margaret's poems from the Manuscript.
Now may I mourn as one of late
Driven by force from my delight,
And cannot see my lonely mate
To whom forever my heart is plight.
Alas! That ever prison strong
Should such two lovers separate,
Yet though our bodies suffereth wrong,
Our hearts should be of one estate.
I will not swerve, I you assure,
For gold nor yet for worldly fear,
But like as iron I will endure,
Such faithful love to you I bear.
Thus fare thee well, to me most dear
Of all the world, both most and least,
I pray you be of right good cheer
And think on me who loves you best.
And I will promise you again,
To think of you I will not let,
For nothing could release my pain
But to think on you my lover sweet.