Sunday Poetry – Love Lost

I knew that Mary, Queen of Scots (picture from here) wrote poetry but I don’t remember ever reading any of her poems, except probably in biographies of her. This lovely poem, The Absent One, has been translated from the French by Antonia Fraser. It doesn’t say when it was written but Mary certainly had many absent loved ones to write about over her long years of imprisonment so maybe it dates to that period of her life. The imagery implies a more active life but maybe she was imagining her life as she wished it could be.

Wherever I may be
In the woods or in the fields
Whatever the hour of day
Be it dawn or the eventide
My heart still feels it yet
The eternal regret.


As I sink into my sleep
The absent one is near
Alone upon my couch
I feel his beloved touch
In work or in repose
We are forever close.

In this same section of the anthology, there was also a poem by Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland & I of England (picture from here). Again, I don’t know when it was written but this stanza is lovely. It could refer to his mother but, as they were not close (understandable as they were seperated when James was less than two years old), it probably doesn’t. It’s from a poem called Ane Metaphoricall Invention of a Tragedie called Phoenix.

Yet worst of all, she lived not half her age.
Why stayde thou Tyme at least, which all dois teare
To worke with her? O what a cruell rage,
To cut her off, before her threid did weare!
Wherein all Planets keeps their course, that yeare
It was not by the half yet worne away,
Which sould with her have ended on a day.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Poetry – Love Lost

  1. James did not know his mother, but he did have her body moved to Westminster Abbey, where it remains to this day. So it is possible that the poem is about her.

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  2. That's true Ed, but I always thought that was a bit of face-saving political necessity. I think his strict Protestant upbringing would have left him with very little feeling for his mother. I'd liked to think it was about her, though.

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