I suppose this is where my inner-history student comes to the surface of my poetry. This discusses the way that the personality of Lady Jane Grey has been interpreted in history. From victimised puppet, to a cunning woman, clever in the coup that gave her the crown. I’d like to think that the actuality of the situation is much less black and white than this interpretation suggests. Lady Jane Grey, in order for a Protestant succession to be achieved was named as heir to the throne of Edward VI. It is likely that his will was hastily altered in order to accommodate for this to happen, and it was not his decision. This was to stop the Catholic Mary I from coming to the throne. This, predictably did not work. Public support generally went in favour of those who had the natural right to rule, and this was seen as Mary’s right. Mary became Queen of England in 1553, and Lady Jane was confined in the Tower of London. Originally, she wasn’t going to be executed, but it was on the insistence of Philip of Spain, Mary’s to-be husband that Jane be executed, as she was seen as a possible figurehead of rebellion, which Mary (popularly and inaccurately demonised as being evil) was extremely reluctant to do, but knew that it was inevitable.
A planned construction like the scaffold,
a calculation of canvas and oil paint.
Herself, not central, but her white gown
on her, she was transformed into
the immaculate virgin raped by the axe.
The head that harboured the crown;
guileless, apparently so.
The chest that took anointing oil;
a pale close to snow.
We observe her memory
through stained glass.
We see her outline,
but let our minds be coloured.
The paints of propaganda,
the murmurings of martyrdom,
whisper the stories of
a flowering rose of red and white,
and a severing of the stem.
An undercurrent still remains,
suggesting a sliver of guilt.
She is now stripped of petals,
causing the core to wilt.