The Poetry of Anne Boleyn: Second Poem

by Heather R. Darsie

A second poem is attributed to Anne Boleyn, and perhaps written shortly after her trial on 15 May 1536. Despite bravely defending herself against slanderous claims, Anne was found guilty of adultery and incest. It was obvious to her that the charges were a way for Henry to rid himself of Anne Boleyn so Henry could marry the more passive Jane Seymour. Despite knowing that or feeling it in her gut, Anne held out hope that she might be sent to a convent or meet some other fate than death. Chillingly, it is possible that Anne wrote, “O Death Rock Me Asleep” after her execution was delayed,

Anne Boleyn in the Tower, Moments after Her Arrest. c. 1835, by Edouard Cibot. Via Wikimedia Commons.
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;
There is no remedy. 

No one knows what was going through Anne Boleyn’s mind as she waited for her death less than three years after her coronation. Anne was lodged in the same apartments in the Tower of London which she had been before the pageantry and pomp of her trek from the Tower to Westminster. Her trial was held in the same hall where a feast in her honour as the new queen was given. Surely her emotions and mind occasionally wandered back to those happier days, even if she did not want to remember those times full of promise.
Anne Boleyn met her death on 19 May 1536.

 

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Sources & Suggested Reading
1. Boleyn, Anne. “O Death Rock Me Asleep.” https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/o-death-rock-me-asleep/     Retrieved 7 May 2019.
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Categories: This and That, Women

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Trackbacks

  1. The Poetry of Anne Boleyn: Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Infatuation – Maidens and Manuscripts
  2. The Poetry of Anne Boleyn: Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Anger – Maidens and Manuscripts
  3. The Poetry of Anne Boleyn: First Poem – Maidens and Manuscripts
  4. The Curious Case of a Misidentified Portrait of Anne Boleyn – Maidens and Manuscripts
  5. The First Hint of Trouble: An Early Spat Between the Johann II of Cleves and Elector Frederick of Saxony – Maidens and Manuscripts

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