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A commentary and some background details

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1 A commentary and some background details
Tichborne’s Elegy, written with his own hand in the Tower before his execution. A commentary and some background details http//www.marrasouk.com

2 Tichborne’s Elegy The poem was written by Charles Tichborne in
1586, as part of a letter to his wife, Agnes An elegy is a reflection on the death of someone or about sorrow The theme of the poem is simple: Tichborne is too young to die Chidiock (Charles) Tichborne ( ) was born to Roman Catholic parents. Given the recent succession of Elizabeth I to the throne over Mary I, he was allowed to freely practice his religion for most of his early life. However in 1570 the Queen was excommunicated by the Pope for her support of the Protestant religion and in retaliation ended her tolerance of the Catholic Church. Catholicism was made illegal, and Roman Catholics were once more banned by law from practicing their religion. In 1583, Tichborne and his father were arrested and questioned concerning the use of "popish relics." Though they were released without charge, records suggest that this was not the last time they were to be questioned by the authorities over their religion. In June 1586, Tichborne agreed to take part in the Babington Plot to murder Queen Elizabeth and replace her with the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots who was next in line to the throne. The plot was foiled by Sir Francis Walsingham using double agents, most notably Robert Poley who was later witness to the murder of Christopher Marlowe, and though most of the conspirators fled, Tichborne had an injured leg and was forced to remain in London. On August 14 he was arrested and he was later tried and sentenced to death in Westminster Hall.While in custody in the Tower of London on September 19 (the eve of his execution), Tichborne wrote to his wife Agnes. The letter contained three stanzas of poetry that is his only known piece of work, Tichborne's Elegy. On September 20, 1586, Tichborne was executed with Anthony Babington, John Ballard, and four other conspirators. They were disembowelled while still alive on specially erected gallows in St Giles Field, London as a warning to other would-be conspirators; however, when the Queen heard reports of these particularly gruesome executions, she gave orders that the remaining seven conspirators were to be allowed to hang until dead before being disembowelled.” Notes from Wikipedia Tichborne wrote the poem about his own life, knowing that he would be executed the next day. http//www.marrasouk.com

3 Tichborne’s Elegy uses antithesis
Key word Tichborne’s Elegy uses antithesis This is where two ideas are juxtaposed, or placed alongside each other “feast” picks up on “dish.” My feast of joy is but a dish of pain, What is Tichborne saying about his feast of joy? The line can be separated in two The words are in opposition to each other “joy” and “pain” contrast http//www.marrasouk.com

4 You will see that the lines follow a similar pattern of antithesis
weeds My crop of corn is but a field of tares, My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green My thread is cut and yet it is not spun What ideas are in opposition in each of the three lines? What does “my thread” is cut mean? Think about the circumstances in which Tichborne is writing the poem. For further details of the parable of the wheat and the tares see In Greek mythology the Fates would spin thread to decide how long a man would live. These words set the ideas in opposition http//www.marrasouk.com

5 What kind of effect is created by these lines? Which words
contribute to this effect? sadness? The day is past, and yet I saw no sun, regret? negatives My youth is spent and yet I am not old, ghost despondency? I looked for life and saw it was a shade, What effect do the negatives have? Make a list of the negatives in rest of the poem. What is their combined effect? grief? I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb, sorrow? These words are all associated with elegies http//www.marrasouk.com

6 The elegy makes use of paradox
Doesn’t seem to make sense on a first reading A contradiction My tale was heard and yet it was not told, The reader tries to work out the meaning Does this mean that at his trial he did not get the chance to put his own version of events? Can you find other lines in the poem that use paradox? Does this refer to his life being cut short? http//www.marrasouk.com

7 Here’s another example of paradox:
My glass is full, and now my glass is run, Potentially he has the rest of his life in front of him His life has run out - it’s time to die http//www.marrasouk.com

8 You will have noticed that each stanza ends with the same line
But he knows his life is effectively over For the moment he lives And now I live, and now my life is done. Experiment with different ways of reading the line aloud. How does this affect meaning? If you were reading the poem out aloud would you read this line in the same way in each stanza? Also the sense of his life’s work is complete http//www.marrasouk.com

9 The style of the poem All stanzas follow
Single syllable words contribute to simple and stark effect. All stanzas follow the same pattern The style of the poem The rhyme scheme My tale was heard and yet it was not told, My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green, My youth is spent and yet I am not old, I saw the world and yet I was not seen; My thread is cut and yet it is not spun, And now I live, and now my life is done. A B C Find the word in the stanza with more than one syllable. What’s the effect of the repetition of “my” and “I?” Nearly all lines begin with “my” or “I” - repeated later. End-stopped lines- each one a complete thought http//www.marrasouk.com

10 The most loving wife alive I commend me to thee,
Extract from a letter written by Chidiock Tichborne to his wife, the night before he suffered. The most loving wife alive I commend me to thee, and desire God to bless thee with all happiness. Pray for thy dead husband, and be of good comfort, for I hope in Jesus Christ this morning to see the face of my Redeemer, in the most joyful Throne of his glorious kingdom. For the full text and some further details on Tichborne: http//www.marrasouk.com


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