Anne Boleyn Poetry

A poem said to have been written by Anne Boleyn during her imprisonment in the Tower of London. There have been questions raised over the authorship of this poem but since it was set to music by Robert Jordan, a former chaplain to Anne Boleyn, it is possible that it was in fact composed by her.

O Death, rock me asleep,

Bring me to quiet rest,

Let pass my weary guiltless ghost

Out of my careful breast.

Toll on, thou passing bell;

Ring out my doleful knell;

Let thy sound my death tell.

Death doth draw nigh;

There is no remedy.

My pains who can express?

Alas, they are so strong;

My dolour will not suffer strength

My life for to prolong.

Toll on, thou passing bell;

Ring out my doleful knell;

Let thy sound my death tell.

Death doth draw nigh;

There is no remedy.

Alone in prison strong

I wait my destiny.

Woe worth this cruel hap that I

Should taste this misery!

Toll on, thou passing bell;

Ring out my doleful knell;

Let thy sound my death tell.

Death doth draw nigh;

There is no remedy.

Farewell, my pleasures past,

Welcome, my present pain!

I feel my torments so increase

That life cannot remain.

Cease now, thou passing bell;

Rung is my doleful knell;

For the sound my death doth tell.

Death doth draw nigh;

Sound the knell dolefully, for now I die.

Anne Boleyn in the Tower

Tradition also tells of how Anne Boleyn composed a second poem while imprisoned in the Tower of London. Her authorship was attested to by Sir John Hawkins (1719-89) although Alison Weir believes it is more likely that ‘Queen Anne’s Lament’ was written by the composer Robert Johnson (c.1583-1633) as a polemic protesting Anne’s innocence.

Even if Anne was not the author of these poems they express what she was likely feeling and thinking during her final days.

Defiled is my name full sore,                                                                                                Through cruel spite and false report,                                                                                              That I may say for ever more,                                                                                                          Farewell my joy, adieu comfort.

For wrongfully ye judge of me,                                                                                                        Unto my fame a mortal wound.                                                                                                        Seek what ye list, it will not be;                                                                                                      Ye seek for that can not be found.

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