When I Was Fair and Young

By Queen Elizabeth I 1533–1603 Queen Elizabeth I
When I was fair and young, then favor graced me.
Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.
But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where; importune me no more.

How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe,
How many sighing hearts I have not skill to show,
But I the prouder grew and still this spake therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.

Then spake fair Venus’ son, that proud victorious boy,
Saying: You dainty dame, for that you be so coy,
I will so pluck your plumes as you shall say no more:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.

As soon as he had said, such change grew in my breast
That neither night nor day I could take any rest.
Wherefore I did repent that I had said before:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.
 Queen  Elizabeth I

Biography

Although the influence of Queen Elizabeth I on the literature of the period that bears her name has been much discussed, her own status as an author has been less recognized. Critics have traced her role as subject of or inspiration for such works as Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (1590-1596), William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1600), and some Petrarchan sonnets but have generally considered her as the author . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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