Thursday, April 30, 2009

This women's work; or three faces of eve.

All quotations from Elizabeth I, Collected Works eds. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (U of Chicago P, 2000)

1) The Politics of Loving

On Monsieur's Departure

I grieve and dare not show my discontent;
I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate;
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant;
I seem stark mute, but inwardly do prate
  I am, and not; I freeze and yet am burned,
  Since from myself another self I turned

My care is my shadow in the sun—
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands, and lies by me, doth what I have done;
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
  By no means I find to rid him from my breast,
  Till by the end of things it suppressed.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft, and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, Love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low;
  Or let me live with some more swet content,
  Or die, and so forget what love e'er meant.
Elizabetha Regina. ca 1582.

2) Head of the Church

Morning Prayer

My God, my father, and my Savior, as Thou now sendest Thy sun upon the earth to give corporeal light to Thy creatures, vouchsafe also to illuminate my heart and understanding by the heavenly light of Thy Holy Spirit, that I neither think nor say nor do anything unless to serve and please Thee. During this whole day may my principal purpose be to walk in Thy fear, to serve Thee and honor Thee, expecting all luck and prosperity from Thy blessing alone. As for my body and my soul, mayst Thou be my Protector, strengthening me against all the temptations of the devil and of the flesh, preserving me from the encroachments and conspiracies of all my enemies, their accomplices, and adherents. And, good God, inasmuch as there is nothing well begun if one does not persevere, may it please Thee not only to receive me under Thy guidance and protection for this day, but for the whole course of my life, continuing and increasing from day to day the gifst and graces of Thy Holy Spirit in me until I, being united and conjoined with Thy only Son my Savior, may enjoy that blessed life which Thous hast promsied to all Thy elect, through Thy same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, amen. (1569)

3) The Lioness in Winter


[Subscribed] Gathered by one that heard it and was commanded to utter it to the whole army the next day, to send it gathered to the queen herself

My loving people, I have been persuaded by some that are careful of my safety to take heed how I committed myself to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery. But I tell you that I would not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear: I have so behaved myself that under God I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects. Wherefore I am come among you at this time but for my recreation and pleasure, being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live and die amongst yo all, to lay down for my God and for my kingdom and for my people mine honor and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king and of a king of England too—and take foul scorn that Parma or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm. To the which rather than any dishonor shall grow by me, I myself will venter my royal blood; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of your virtue in the field. I know that already for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns and I assure you in the word of a prince you shall not fail of them. In the meantim, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject. Not doubting but by your concord in the camp and valor in the field and your obedience to myself and my general, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God and of my kingdom.

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