"For when I am in the presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it as it were in such weight, measure and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them) ... that I think myself in hell."
Lady Jane Grey, reported by Roger Ascham who visited her family when she was a young child.
Ives, Eric (2009). Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery. Wiley-Blackwell.
They lead you, blindfold, through the maze,
and leave you there, lost and alone –
and whisper as they walk away;
then later, to an injured throne
you neither spurn nor wish to claim,
as rival families, and Rome
and Cranmer play their deadly game;
at last, they lead you to the dark,
your eyes wrapped in a fold again.
The giant axeman stands apart
until the drumbeat sounds, and prays
for kind precision in his task;
as unkind Delaroche betrays,
and – licensed by your mask – defiles
you with a practised, coward’s gaze,
caressing you with brushstrokes, while
your unlearned searching hands reveal
a nine days queen, and still a child.
Phil lives in Kent in the UK. He works as an advisor on peacebuilding and international development. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, journals and websites, and been shortlisted in competitions. A micro-collection, This Quieter Shore, was published in 2019 by Hedgehog Poetry Press, and a full collection Poetry After Auschwitz, is due this year from Sentinel. Some of his published work can be found on his website www.philvernon.net/category/poetry.
The Ekphrastic Review
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