To Anthony Cooke
The goodbye I tried to speak but could not utter with my tongue
By my eyes I delivered back to yours.
That sad love that haunts the countenance in parting
Contained the voice that I concealed from display,
Just as Penelope, when her husband Ulysses was present,
Was speechless—the reason is that sweet love of a gaze.
Then afterwards Ovid sends greeting muses to the absent,
Just as to you, distant, I have sent my small note.
I hope then that silent Dacre will not be scorned by you
For the mind has suffered and held fast in faithfulness to you.
Believe that among servants there is not any more faithful:
As Plancus Plotinus thus will Dacre be to you.
I remain your servant Plancus, more faithful than any;
To this servant Dacre, you remain sweet Coke.
Epigram written by Martial, ‘Of the girdle’
Long enough am I now; but if your shape should swell under its grateful burden, then shall I become to you a narrow girdle.
Last summer, Professor Elaine Treharne discovered a 16th century love poem hidden in a copy of Chaucer’s works. The poem was written in Latin and until Elaine’s discovery, unknown to scholars. This is the earliest found erotic poem written by a woman.
The poem was written by Elizabeth Dacre to Anthony Cooke, tutor to King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII. Elizabeth was likely already married at the time of the poem’s composition as she used the name Dacre, the surname of her first husband. Anthony was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time of Elizabeth’s marriage, accused of involvement in the plot to bring Lady Jane Grey to the throne.
Elizabeth became a very powerful woman through marriage and the acquisition of lands. She died at the age of 30 while giving birth to her fifth child, a son who also died. No portrait exists and her grave is unmarked. More than 30 years her senior, Anthony outlived her, serving as a knight of the shire for Essex after his release from the Tower.
Full article: WVU Today
Photo: Mark Brown, West Virginia University
Suggested by: Other Notebooks Are Avaliable