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Written the Night Before his Execution aka Tichbourne’s Elegy By Chidiock Tichbourne An elegy is a reflection on the death someone or about sorrow.

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Presentation on theme: "Written the Night Before his Execution aka Tichbourne’s Elegy By Chidiock Tichbourne An elegy is a reflection on the death someone or about sorrow."— Presentation transcript:

1 Written the Night Before his Execution aka Tichbourne’s Elegy By Chidiock Tichbourne An elegy is a reflection on the death someone or about sorrow

2 The poem… My prime of youth is but a frost of cares, My feast of joy is but a dish of pain; My crop of corn is but a field of tares, And all my good is but vain hope of gain; My day is past, and yet I saw no sun; And now I live, and now my life is done.

3 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 an 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.

4 I sought my death, and found it in my womb, I looked for life, and saw it was a shade, I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb, And now I die, and now I was but made: The glass is full, and now my glass is run, And now I live, and now my life is done.

5 Context  Written by Tichbourne - a national terrorist or Christian martyr because he had committed treason by trying to assassinate Queen Elizabeth 1. Under Elizabeth Catholicism was illegal and Catholics could no longer publicly worship and had to be careful to hide their faith. Tichbourne was a minor conspirator in a plot to overthrow the queen and replace her with the next in line, Mary, Queen of Scots, who was a Catholic (the Babington Plot). Life for Catholics was difficult as they had no religious freedom and were kept from positions of privilege or royal favour.  The plot did not succeed because of a fellow conspirator turned the rest in to escape punishment himself. All those caught were sentenced to death.  Apparently the poem was written on 19 th September, the eve of his execution. The next day he was hung but wile he was choking he was disemboweled alive (hung, drawn and quartered).  He was between at the time of his death.

6 The poet uses a similar use of antitheses and metaphors to convey his frustration of his life being cut short Use of words or phrases to contrast with each other in order to create a balanced effect My prime of youth is but a frost of cares, My feast of joy is but a dish of pain; My crop of corn is but a field of tares, And all my good is but vain hope of gain; The day is past, and yet I saw no sun; And now I live, and now my life is done. He is at the pinnacle of his life Sadness/Troubles In this case the contemporary English translation of ‘but’ is ‘just’ MAYBE alludes to the Gospel imagery of the painful cup that must be drunk to fulfill God’s will (Jesus) – Last Supper Weeds Written in first person, ‘I’ and ‘my’ show how he was in a state of complete self- absorption and mental isolation in his last hours – understandable really! Although the poet is young his life is ‘frost’, joyless and full of worries = impending death Feeling of defeat is heightened when he reminisces and realizes that he actually hasn’t really accomplished anything worthwhile in his short life. Each line contrasts his youthful life, his prime, with the certainty of his death. Agricultural Metaphor The only way the poet has benefited in his life is by hoping to make an achievement but has in reality his efforts were al in ‘vain’ Last line is repeated in all three stanzas so as to emphasise although he is alive at this precise moment in time his life is virtually over His life has come to its end Nothing truly worthwhile was produced by him in his life Never had a chance to enjoy life like other youths Last meals were not of nourishment but was that of emotional suffering

7 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. The poet had a life, his existence is recorded Expressing frustration that his life was not lived to the full..does not have a legacy to leave behind Compares life to a tree, he is a fruit hat has ripened and fallen to the ground because his life is about to end. Slight connotation that he is ready for his death even though he is still young Did not have time to leave a mark Tichbourne has established in the previous stanza that he had not achieved anything substantial now he is actually realizing that he will never get the chance to make something of himself His life has not been lived out Could emphasize the poet’s inability to escape his execution In Greek mythology the fates would spin thread to decide how long a person would live He uses paradox to contrast between his expectations as a young man and his reward as a traitor

8 I sought my death, and found it in my womb, I looked for life, and saw it was a shade, I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb, And now I die, and now I was but made: The glass is full, and now my glass is run, And now I live, and now my life is done. He expected his death, it was decided even before he was born From the point of view of eternity, He feels like his life just started a moment ago and is now already coming to an end but it is okay because his transition to heaven is instantaneous Image of an hourglass Perhaps it can also be that for the first time he is really living because heaven is now on the horizon and he is realizing what life s about Common poetical conceit…puns on a man being biblically created on earth and returning to earth Reference to the way he dies-stomach is slashed open(foreshadow) Reference to the origin of his fate, it all started when he was born Catholic. His fate to fight for his beliefs. In this stanza the poet takes his inevitable outcome as an expected outcome with no other possible alternative options, as though death is the proper thing for him to experience at this moment. Though poet is troubled by how it ends, you can perceive that he did fulfill his earthly purpose and can now die in peace He never fully trusted life, as he saw it as a ‘shade’- illusory Everyone is born to die

9 Although the poem picks up on many images of regret and despair it is in itself not a despairing poem, instead I feel it is one of acceptance and stubbornness to continue on defiantly down this course till the end With the exception of fallen every word in the poem is of one syllable, this adds to the stark and plain tone of the poem…it doesn’t try too hard he has stripped himself bare The fact that the poet is writing poetry in his last moments gives him an element of grace and dignity…which is seen in the poem through the use of proper punctuation, caesura and perfect iambic pentameter with a true ABABCC rhyme scheme Each end rhyme pair is significantly appropriate, each being an opposite of the other and yet equated. e.g My prime of youth is but a frost of cares, My crop of corn is but a field of tares, General Remarks


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