Poetry at the Post: Anne of Cleves Has Her Say

Anne of Cleves In Exile by Alice-Catherine Jennings

Anne of Cleves, by Hans Holbein the Younger 4th Wife of King Henry VIII
Anne of Cleves, by Hans Holbein the Younger
4th Wife of King Henry VIII

Day 26 of NaPoWriMo: Write a persona poem.

My poem is told from the point of view of Anne of Cleves, the 4th wife of Henry ViII—his wife, however, for only 6 months.    The marriage had been arranged abroad by Thomas Cromwell as, at this point, Henry was no longer thought to be “a catch” and the young eligibles were fearful of being wed to a king who had three prior wives dead—one exiled, one beheaded and one dead from childbirth fever.

Anne was brought to England from Flanders and Henry upon seeing her was dismayed by her looks. Since a commitment had been made,  the wedding went forward but, soon thereafter, Henry found a legal way out of the marriage.

Anne knew what had happened to the Queens before her so she did not object. As a consequence, she enjoyed the King’s future favor and friendship and stayed a member of the royal family as”the King’s Beloved Sister”.

I have not been well handled. I, of noble birth,
sent to this barbaric land to wed a king, one
with a small show of man, his member a wet twig
underneath white mounds of fat, gangrenous toes.

My eye that saw him did not enchant the mind.
A king who left a trail of dead wives across England

The broken bosoms that to him belong.

Yet he so calleth me the Flemish mare.
I, full and sensuous, of tawny complexion,
not full-pale like the English maids.

Trained to please, I tried to catch his passions,
his whims. In love, I was rejected, in friendship
not. Feat and affectedly in my chambers each
nigh, we sharen spit-roasted meats, black pudding

w/ ale over a match of chess. I’d harvest the most
wins or so say I until Friday twelfth night ago when
forth with I must quit with my ladies to Richmond
Castle. I did not list his double voice.

The gardens are sorrow’ winds and rains.

Note:  Quotes and certain phrases are from various Shakespearian sonnets.




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