Anne Boleyn to the King
by Jean Hollander
My lord, when last I saw your face you frowned
and then you spurned me, though I asked
to come before you many times. Others I heard
singing and laughing in the dance
I used to lead, dressed in my favorite bright
yellow: junctures of love, Henry, my Henry,
the torches sizzling in the hall outside
with Ann a vixen flame in your bowels.
No question then of infidelity when we defied
your wife, your kingdom, and all Rome.
Come to me one last time--
I promise not to plead
for love or life, but go
a vixen still to that brute festival.
But no, I would not have you see
me haggard, aged, as I'm now,
the prison time drawn out by my large space
of suffering. Just send me word, trinket,
some fond remembering. Or bid them bring
Elizabeth--how she must grow--
to hold against these breasts that held
a king, her father, captive for a thousand days.
Let me embrace her quickly, and her smile
will brazen me to laugh into the hooded face
bring her not near me, lest her fate
sicken with mine. Let her still remain,
your daughter, and my fallen head
from hell shall see her crowned.
* * *
Jean Hollander’s first book of poems, Crushed into Honey, won the Eileen W. Barnes Award. Her second collection, entitled Moondog, was a winner in the QRL Poetry Book Series. Her third book of poems, Organs and Blood, appeared in 2008. She has published hundreds of poems in many literary journals, as well as in Best Poem anthologies and other collections. She has won many prizes, grants, and fellowships. Her verse translation of Dante’s Commedia was published by Doubleday to enthusiastic reviews.
What inspires you to write and keep writing?
Ever since I studied Shakespeare at graduate school, I have been fascinated by the dramatic history of Henry VIII and his wives and the final result: Queen Elizabeth.
I write poetry because I cannot help it.