Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Written On The Eve Of Execution

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
I love finding old poetry anthologies at used book sales. In them you find who was considered the hot commodity at the time. Whose voices were worthy to be sustained for a time. Usually they are common names found in many other anthologies, such as: Coleridge, Keats, Elliot, or Bronte. Digging deeper are the names of poets who have been forgotten. Anyone of you heard of Sir John Suckling? A few days ago I found a single poem written by Chidiock Tichborne. Besides having an unusual name I was struck by the title of his poem, "Written On The Eve Of Execution". The poem is dark, but has such stunning imagery was this poem written by someone who was about to die? Yes he did. Catholics during the time of Queen Elizabeth were persecuted for their beliefs as were the protestants during other parts of English history. Chidiock and some others plotted to have the queen assassinated. They were found out, but only the author was captured and executed. Before he was about to die he wrote a letter which contained this short poem. As far as can be told this was his only poem. Granted his reason for execution, but I wonder if I were in a situation where I knew I was going to be executed for my faith what would I write? I've been going through a lot of my old journals to find which ones I want to keep and which to throw away.... man I was a weepy little wuss back in the day. Is that what I'd want people to find? If you had the opportunity what would you lave behind?

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 5:08 PM


Blogger Art said...

That's interesting. I've never heard of Tichborne but I remember Suckling from a class I took many more years ago than I care to tell.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Too_Lively said...

My journals all sound bipolar. One entry, I am extremely pleased and happy, the next I am moaning and weeping about something gone wrong. I guess it is normal for emotional extremes to cause one to write.

3:31 PM  
Blogger jasdye said...

i remember quite a few of my early poems. you're absolutely right - overly wrought, sentimental to the l, crybaby fluff that would make what Tichborne wrote seem downright cheery.

and i know i wasn't gonna be executed.

4:33 PM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

All of this has come to a head for me. Have I been wasting my time pursuing the things I've been pursuing? He wrote that poem in a time of distress, what would I write in the same situation? would it even be worth the effort?

4:58 PM  

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