King Henry VIII met Anne von Cleves privately on New Year’s Day 1540 at Rochester Abbey on her journey from Dover. The king, accompanied by his few courtiers, arrived at the abbey with the intention to woo his bride with courtly love. He went to Anne’s rooms disguised, so Anne, who sat near a window staring out, didn’t recognize his status at first.
Could Henry use other tricks to impress Anne, whose portrait he liked a lot before he met her in person? This is a poem that in my book, Henry reads to Anne, whose puritanical upbringing in the Protestant household doesn’t approve of such frivolity. Henry was obsessed with sons!
In my dreams, I imagine you as a goddess
Who descends to me from the golden heavens
Flowered with sweetness of your nature,
Bearing all those amorous weapons,
Like an ancient goddess of love on frescoes,
Like the lady whom I’ve been seeking for long.
Our marriage of soulmates is that of beauty
In which heavenly gladness is paired with duty
To fill the royal nursery with many Tudor sons,
Oh, how I will love all my little male jewels!
You will give me all this, my future queen,
Your lovely name rustles in silken syllables
Along the verses I compose in the dance of words.
All images are in the public domain.
Text © 2020 Olivia Longueville