William B. Watterson
Anne Boleyn - Poem by William B. Watterson
What a resounding thud
When her small head,
Flecking with spots and splotches of red
The crisp, yellow, unfeeling straw
On the floor of the wooden scaffold,
Dropped like a shot
To make a mighty dent in English history!
In what countless lives and places
Echoed that sound?
A sound that would reverberate
Down along the annals
Of the world,
A sound that rang across the channel
To festering Spain where proud hate
Already gallant battle flags unfurled,
A sound to inspire sages
And bards and singers of song,
A faint, muffled sound that baffled
More historians perhaps than all
The exploding cataclysms
Roaring through the pages
Of recorded time,
A sound that must have chimed
Like a fierce, unceasing gong
In the brain of her only living issue,
Who crushed and wrung
The life from the fearsome Spanish throng,
Grinding them like chaff or helpless straw
And dashing aside the dreaded Spanish barks
Like toys in some childish navy,
With one powerful, sweeping arc
Of the English lion’s paw!
She would be queen;
And queen she was for a span,
Tied by a sinful, wicked scheme
Born in the twisted mind
Of a wily, power-mad courtier.
Tied to a sometime generous, kind
But a devious, vicious, bloody man.
Together they ruled England:
Ruled from couches of lust,
Ruled from thrones of deceit,
Ruled through baths of blood,
Ruled by new laws or edicts penned.
Catherine, Wolsey, More—
They and many another woman and man,
Some to disgrace,
Some to the block,
But all in turn, bad and good,
Fell, fell because of a girl named Anne.
Her life was short but glorious,
Her decline was imminent,
Even as her rise had begun.
Leaving one small daughter
And a still-born son.
She died in the spring
And in the spring of her life.
A skillful headsman imported from France
Felled England’s whore-queen and Henry’s half-wife.
But in her dying she was born again:
A legend, a mystery to search and to probe.
Circle the globe, question all men.
Who has not heard of Anne Boleyn?
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