Queen Mary


Scene II

Alfred Tennyson

Room in Whitehall Palace


Ave Maria, gratia plena, Benedicta tu in mulieribus.

Loyal and royal cousin, humblest thanks.
Had you a pleasant voyage up the river?

We had your royal barge, and that same chair,
Or rather throne of purple, on the deck.
Our silver cross sparkled before the prow,
The ripples twinkled at their diamond-dance,
The boats that follow’d, were as glowing-gay
As regal gardens; and your flocks of swans,
As fair and white as angels; and your shores
Wore in mine eyes the green of Paradise.
My foreign friends, who dream’d us blanketed
In ever-closing fog, were much amazed
To find as fair a sun as might have flash’d
Upon their lake of Garda, fire the Thames;
Our voyage by sea was all but miracle;
And here the river flowing from the sea,
Not toward it (for they thought not of our tides),
Seem’d as a happy miracle to make glide—
In quiet—home your banish’d countryman.

We heard that you were sick in Flanders, cousin.

A dizziness.

                        And how came you round again?

The scarlet thread of Rahab saved her life;
And mine, a little letting of the blood.

Well? now?

                        Ay, cousin, as the heathen giant
Had but to touch the ground, his force return’d—
Thus, after twenty years of banishment,
Feeling my native land beneath my foot,
I said thereto: ‘Ah, native land of mine,
Thou art much beholden to this foot of mine,
That hastes with full commission from the Pope
To absolve thee from thy guilt of heresy.
Thou hast disgraced me and attainted me,
And mark’d me ev’n as Cain, and I return
As Peter, but to bless thee: make me well.’
Methinks the good land heard me, for to-day
My heart beats twenty, when I see you, cousin.
Ah, gentle cousin, since your Herod’s death,
How oft hath Peter knock’d at Mary’s gate!
And Mary would have risen and let him in,
But, Mary, there were those within the house
Who would not have it.

                        True, good cousin Pole;
And there were also those without the house
Who would not have it.

                        I believe so, cousin.
State-policy and church-policy are conjoint,
But Janus-faces looking diverse ways.
I fear the Emperor much misvalued me.
But all is well; ’twas ev’n the will of God,
Who, waiting till the time had ripen’d, now,
Makes me his mouth of holy greeting. ‘Hail,
Daughter of God, and saver of the faith.
Sit benedictus fructus ventris tui!’

Ah, heaven!

                        Unwell, your Grace?

                                        No, cousin, happy—
Happy to see you; never yet so happy
Since I was crown’d.

                        Sweet cousin, you forget
That long low minster where you gave your hand
To this great Catholic King.

                                Well said, Lord Legate.

Nay, not well said; I thought of you, my liege,
Ev’n as I spoke.

                        Ay, Madam; my Lord Paget
Waits to present our Council to the Legate.
Sit down here, all; Madam, between us you.

Lo, now you are enclosed with boards of cedar,
Our little sister of the Song of Songs!
You are doubly fenced and shielded sitting here
Between the two most high-set thrones on earth,
The Emperor’s highness happily symboll’d by
The King your husband, the Pope’s Holiness
By mine own self.

                        True, cousin, I am happy.
When will you that we summon both our houses
To take this absolution from your lips,
And be regather’d to the Papal fold?

In Britain’s calendar the brightest day
Beheld our rough forefathers break their Gods,
And clasp the faith in Christ; but after that
Might not St. Andrew’s be her happiest day?

Then these shall meet upon St. Andrew’s day.

Enter PAGET, who presents the Council. Dumb show.

I am an old man wearied with my journey,
Ev’n with my joy. Permit me to withdraw.
To Lambeth?

                Ay, Lambeth has ousted Cranmer.
It was not meet the heretic swine should live
In Lambeth.

                There or anywhere, or at all.

We have had it swept and garnish’d after him.

Not for the seven devils to enter in?

No, for we trust they parted in the swine.

True, and I am the Angel of the Pope.
Farewell, your Graces.

                        Nay, not here—to me;
I will go with you to the waterside.

Not be my Charon to the counter side?

No, my Lord Legate, the Lord Chancellor goes.

And unto no dead world; but Lambeth palace,
Henceforth a centre of the living faith.

[Exeunt Philip, Pole, Paget, etc.

Manet MARY.

He hath awaked! he hath awaked!
He stirs within the darkness!
Oh, Philip, husband! now thy love to mine
Will cling more close, and those bleak manners thaw,
That make me shamed and tongue-tied in my love.
The second Prince of Peace—
The great unborn defender of the Faith,
Who will avenge me of mine enemies—
He comes, and my star rises.
The stormy Wyatts and Northumberlands,
The proud ambitions of Elizabeth,
And all her fieriest partisans—are pale
Before my star!
The light of this new learning wanes and dies:
The ghosts of Luther and Zuinglius fade
Into the deathless hell which is their doom
Before my star!
His sceptre shall go forth from Ind to Ind!
His sword shall hew the heretic peoples down!
His faith shall clothe the world that will be his,
Like universal air and sunshine! Open,
Ye everlasting gates! The King is here!—
My star, my son!

                        Oh, Philip, come with me;
Good news have I to tell you, news to make
Both of us happy—ay, the Kingdom too.
Nay come with me—one moment!

    PHILIP (to ALVA).
More than that:
There was one here of late—William the Silent
They call him—he is free enough in talk,
But tells me nothing. You will be, we trust,
Sometime the viceroy of those provinces—
He must deserve his surname better.

                                        Ay, sir;
Inherit the Great Silence.

                        True; the provinces
Are hard to rule and must be hardly ruled;
Most fruitful, yet, indeed, an empty rind,
All hollow’d out with stinging heresies;
And for their heresies, Alva, they will fight;
You must break them or they break you.

ALVA (proudly).
                        The first.

Well, Madam, this new happiness of mine?



News, mates! a miracle, a miracle! news!
The bells must ring; Te Deums must be sung;
The Queen hath felt the motion of her babe!

Ay; but see here!

                    See what?

                                This paper, Dickon.
I found it fluttering at the palace gates:—
‘The Queen of England is delivered of a dead dog!’

These are the things that madden her. Fie upon it!

Ay; but I hear she hath a dropsy, lad,
Or a high-dropsy, as the doctors call it.

Fie on her dropsy, so she have a dropsy!
I know that she was ever sweet to me.

For thou and thine are Roman to the core.

So thou and thine must be. Take heed!

                                                Not I,
And whether this flash of news be false or true,
So the wine run, and there be revelry,
Content am I. Let all the steeples clash,
Till the sun dance, as upon Easter Day.


Queen Mary - Contents     |     Act III - Scene III

Back    |    Words Home    |    Tennyson Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback