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Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots

Ode to Francis

Mary’s first husband, the young French King Francis II died suddenly of an ear infection aged only sixteen. Mary, a year older than him, wrote the following poem in a state of great dejection, having lost the only pure love that she would ever encounter.

In my sad, quiet song,
A melancholy air,
I shall look deep and long
At loss beyond compare,
And with bitter tears,
I’ll pass my best years.
Have the harsh fates ere now
Let such a grief be felt,
Has a more cruel blow
Been by Dame Fortune dealt
Than, O my heart and my eyes!
I see where his bier lies?
In my springtime’s gladness
And flower of my young heart,
I feel the deepest sadness
Of the most grievous hurt.
Nothing now my heart can fire
But regret and desire.
He who was my dearest
Already is my plight.
The day that shone the clearest
For me is darkest night.
There is nothing now so fine
That I need make it mine.
Deep in my eyes and heart
A portrait has its place
Which shows the world my hurt
In the pallor of my face,
Pale as when violets fade,
True love’s becoming a shade
In my unwonted pain
I can no more be still,
Rising time and again
To drive away my ill.
All things good and bad
Have lost the taste they had.
And thus I always stay
Whether in wood or meadow,
Whether at dawn of day
Or at the evening shadow.
My heart feels ceaselessly
Grief for his loss to me.
Sometimes in such a place
His image comes to me.
The sweet smile on his face
Up in a cloud I see.
Then sudden in the mere
I see his funeral bier.
When I lie quietly
Sleeping upon my couch,
I hear him speak to me
And I can feel his touch.
In my duties each day
He is near me always.
Nothing seems fine to me
Unless he is therein.
My heart will not agree
Unless he is within
I lack all perfection
In my cruel dejection.
I shall cease my song now,
My sad lament shall end
Whose burden aye shall show
True love can not pretend
And though we are apart,
Grows no less in my heart

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