There is no remedy

At some point between her sentencing and execution, tradition holds that Anne Boleyn used her time to write a beautiful, achingly sad poem known as O Death! rock me asleep.  Some believe it was more likely written by her brother, George, who was well-known and respected as a poet during his lifetime. Although it has been proven that the verse is definitely of Tudor origin, it’s probably unlikely that Anne could have written reams of poetry without it being commented upon; her four Tower ladies-in-waiting were little more than spies placed around her, and they reported on every little thing she did or said whilst imprisoned.

So it’s probably the boring truth that this famous poem wasn’t written by either of the Boleyns, but rather a contemporary writer affected by the proceedings who put themselves in their shoes, imaging how it must have felt to sit up awake in the small hours, perhaps unwilling to waste any more of their life on sleep, knowing all too well what was shortly to come.

O Death! rock me asleep;
Bring me to quiet rest;
let pass my weary, guiltless ghost
out of my careful breast.
Toll on, the passing-bell;
ring out my doleful knell;
let the sound my death tell.
Death does draw nigh;
there is no remedy.

My pains, who can express?
Alas! they are so strong
my dolor will not suffer strength
my life for to prolong.
Toll on, the passing-bell;
ring out my doleful knell;
let the sound my death tell.
for I must die;
there is no remedy.

Alone, in prison strong,
I wait my destiny.
Woe worth this cruel hap, that I
should taste this misery!
Toll on, the passing-bell;
ring out my doleful knell;
let the sound my death tell.
Death does draw nigh;
there is no remedy.

Farewell! my pleasures past;
welcome! my present pain.
I feel my torments so increase
that life cannot remain.
Toll on, the passing-bell;
wrong is my doleful knell;
for the sound my death does tell.
Death does draw nigh;
there is no remedy.

Sound my end dolefully
for now I die,
I die, I die.

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