Anne Askew

Anne Askew Poems

I am a woman poor and blind
and little knowledge remains in me,
Long have I sought, but fain would I find,
what herb in my garden were best to be.

Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight
And Faith shall be my shield.

Anne Askew Biography

Anne Askew (née Anne Ayscough or Ascue, married name Anne Kyme) (born 1520/1521 – died 16 July 1546) was an English poet and Protestant who was condemned as a heretic. She is the only woman on record known to have been both tortured in the Tower of London and burnt at the stake. She is also one of the earliest female poets to compose in the English language and the first Englishwoman to demand a divorce (especially, as an innocent party on scriptural grounds). Anne Askew was born in 1521 in Lincolnshire, England. William Askew, a wealthy landowner, was her father. William was a gentleman in the court of King Henry VIII, as well as a juror in the trial of Anne Boleyn's co-accused. William had arranged that his eldest daughter, Martha, be married to Thomas Kyme. When Anne was 15 years old, Martha died. William decided Anne would take Martha’s place in the marriage to Thomas. Anne was an avid Protestant. She studied the Bible and memorized verses. She was true to her belief for the entirety of her life. Unfortunately, Thomas was a Catholic, which resulted in a brutal marriage between Anne and him. Anne had two children with Thomas before he threw her out for being Protestant. It’s said that Anne was seeking to divorce him, so being kicked out did not upset her. Upon being thrown out, Anne moved to London. Here she met other Protestants and studied the Bible. Anne stuck to her last name Askew, rather than her husband’s name. While in London, Anne became a "gospeler" or a preacher. In March 1545, Thomas had Anne arrested. She was brought back to Lincolnshire, where Thomas demanded her to stay. The order was short lived, as Anne escaped and returned to London to continue preaching. In 1546 she was arrested again, but released. In May 1546 she was arrested again, and tortured in the Tower of London. (She is the only woman recorded to have been tortured there.) She was ordered to give up likeminded women, but Anne refused. The torturers, Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley and Sir Richard Rich, attempted to torture Anne using a device called the rack, which stretches the persons limbs eventually causing dislocation. Anne refused to alter her beliefs. On June 18, 1546, Anne was convicted of heresy, and was condemned to be burned to death. July 16, 1546, Anne Askew was martyred in Smithfield, London. Due to the torture she endured, Anne had to be carried to the stake on a chair. She burned to death, along with three other Protestants, John Lassells, John Hemley ('a priest') and John Hadlam ('a tailor').)

The Best Poem Of Anne Askew

I Am A Woman Poor And Blind

I am a woman poor and blind
and little knowledge remains in me,
Long have I sought, but fain would I find,
what herb in my garden were best to be.

A garden I have which is unknown,
which God of his goodness gave to me,
I mean my body, wherein I should have sown
the seed of Christ's true verity.

My spirit within me is vexed sore,
my flesh striveth against the same:
My sorrows do increase more and more,
my conscience suffereth most bitter pain:

I, with myself being thus at strife,
would fain have been at rest,
Musing and studying in mortal life,
what things I might do to please God best.

With whole intent and one accord,
unto a Gardenthat I did know,
I desired him for the love of the Lord,
true seeds in my garden for to sow.

Then this proud Gardener seeing me so blind,
he thought on me to work his will,
And flattered me with words so kind,
to have me continue in my blindness still.

He fed me then with lies and mocks,
for venial sins he bid me go
To give my money to stones and stocks,
which was stark lies and nothing so.

With stinking meat then was I fed,
for to keep me from my salvation,
I had trentals of mass, and bulls of lead,
not one word spoken of Christ's passion.

In me was sown all kind of feigned seeds,
with Popish ceremonies many a one,
Masses of requiem with other juggling deeds,
till God's spirit out of my garden was gone.

Then was I commanded most strictly,
If of my salvation I would be sure,
To build some chapel or chantry,
to be prayed for while the world doth endure.

'Beware of a new learning,' quoth he, 'it lies,
which is the thing I most abhor,
Meddle not with it in any manner of wise,
but do as your fathers have done before.'

My trust I did put in the Devil's works,
thinking sufficient my soul to save,
Being worse then either Jews or Turks,
thus Christ of his merits I did deprave.

I might liken my self with a woeful heart,
unto the dumb man in Luke the Eleven,
From whence Christ caused the Devil to depart,
but shortly after he took the other seven.

My time thus, good Lord, so wickedly spent,
alas, I shall die the sooner therefore.
Oh Lord, I find it written in thy Testament,
that thou hast mercy enough in store

For such sinners, as the scripture sayeth,
that would gladly repent and follow thy word,
Which I'll not deny whilst I have breath,
for prison, fire, *****, or fierce sword.

Strengthen me good Lord in thy truth to stand,
for the bloody butchers have me at their will,
With their slaughter knives ready drawn in their hand
my simple carcass to devour and kill.

O Lord forgive me mine offense,
for I have offended thee very sore,
Take therefore my sinful body from hence,
Then shall I, vile creature, offend thee no more.

I would with all creatures and faithful friends
for to keep them from this Gardener's hands,
For he will bring them soon unto their ends,
with cruel torments of fierce firebrands.

I dare not presume for him to pray,
because the truth of him it was well known,
But since that time he hath gone astray,
and much pestilent seed abroad he hath sown.

Because that now I have no space,
the cause of my death truly to show,
I trust hereafter that by God's holy grace,
that all faithful men shall plainly know.

To thee O Lord I bequeath my spirit,
that art the work-master of the same,
It is thine, Lord, therefore take it of right,
my carcass on earth I leave, from whence it came.

Although to ashes it be now burned,
I know thou canst raise it again,
In the same likeness as thou it formed,
in heaven with thee evermore to remain.

Anne Askew Comments

David Butler 21 April 2021

Anne spoke the truth about Romish Teaching. She is in glory now triumphant over all her enemies by Christs death and resurrection.

2 1 Reply
bernese warthing 14 October 2019

Very nice job poem hunter. This would take me a very long time to find without your website

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