General Poetry posted March 16, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
Crown of Sonnets -


by Just2Write

A Crown of Heroic Sonnets Contest Winner 
I: Of Rosamond -- She speaks:

"My ghost has found a place where it can rest
away from horrors in the nether deep.
I come to these, my gardens, oh so blessed;
a labyrinth of hedges near the keep.
I love this maze of twists where I can hide
and share the pleasures that young lovers will;
a pastime I once shared, but now abide.
I'm pleased that love lives in my garden still.

I'm here, because I'm blocked from heaven's gate,
and dwell in purgatory full with doubt
where sin's eternal shame has been my fate:
My vapour is a lamp that won't go out.
Nearby, there is a grave, which was my tomb.
It holds my form, but death could not contain
my restless soul in sepulchre or room;
so presence in this garden is germane.

It's cold here in the shadows, and I shiver;
Though pure of heart, I cannot cross the River."

II: The Eternal Ghost -- Rosamond tells how she cannot go to Heaven

"Though pure of heart, I cannot cross the River
that separates those living from the dead.
I knew I'd sinned, but had not one forgiver
when I shared love without a marriage bed.
There's none to blame -- It's wrong to make complaint
whilst living near the blossoms of the rose,
I still have hopes, although I am no saint -
some fate's poetic justice, I suppose.

My peaceful garden gives the gift of time,
where I am free and safe from prying eyes.
Why did the blamers name my love a crime?
They twisted love with bawdy jokes and lies;
Now legends and the rumours have endured -
I was but fourteen summers, oh so young;
who loved a King and in that love matured;
'Rose of the world,' that's what the minstrels sung.

There is no reason I was meant for fame.
Fair Rosamond is nothing but a name."

III: The English King, Henry II speaks:

"Fair Rosamond is nothing but a name,
but Rosamond, the girl, was everything;
most gracious rose of all, I do proclaim -
a stunning blossom from the heart of spring.
Enchanting were her smiling ruby lips
Her eyes of blue were azure, like the sky;
from firm young breasts, to curvature of hips,
I could not pass this lissom beauty by.

Fate's intervention seemed so opportune -
Young Rosamond, oh she was pure delight.
Her radiance shone brightly as the moon
that lights our way and steers through darkest night.
A virgin pure, and daughter of a lord -
Am I not King, and ruler of the land?
Should I not have the damsel I adored?
Was she not mine to love, and then command?

"Fair Rosamond, come hither, lay with me -
It's you I'll love unto eternity."

IV: Rosamond agrees and takes the King's Love.

"It's you I'll love unto eternity,
Was everything a young lass wished to hear -
a sovereign King, above all enmity.
He was enchanting, and so cavalier.
His need for me and want of me surpassed
the cautions of each councillor and priest.
He was besotted, so the die was cast;
no wagging tongues caused worry in the least

And well I knew, King Henry had affairs
when I agreed to be his paramour.
He had his Queen who'd borne him many heirs."
"She'll never learn of Rosamond," he swore.
"A foolish heart goes willingly enough;
and as to marriage, I could just pretend
but Kings are so concerned with stately stuff,
and he had crown and country to defend.

On points of war, young girls cannot discern,
I pined for him and prayed for his return."

V -- Queen Eleanor (Queen of England) speaks

"I pined for him and prayed for his return
though it's been long since I felt Henry's touch.
We'd ruled together, yet I had concern
we disagreed and quarreled twice as much.
We grew so old, and lost was our romance -
I was with child, and hoped my Henry true,
But, troubadours do sing and they do dance
And ballads of his Rosamundi* grew.

So in these songs, I learned of his deceit;
And yearned to know the truth of all these tales
With anger and discountenance complete,
I made for Woodstock, Oxfordshire, near Wales.
Some say I poisoned her, but that's not so,
Nor did I send assassins paid with gold,
just what became of her, I did not know,
although I knew that she would not grow old.

It was my Henry who was out of line,
No fault of hers, and surely none of mine."

VI: The Death of Rosamond -- Rosamond's ghost speaks again:

"No fault of hers, and surely none of mine.
She fled to Oxford where she bore her son,
a fair young prince, so bonny and so fine,
though still a child of marriage that was done.
I was to blame - my soul was filled with guilt.
I feared what God might send as punishment,
for after all, our tainted love was built
on clever lies told to the innocent.

Upon my breast one day, a lump was found
God's punishment to me had now been shown;
I wished to meet the Queen, kneel on the ground;
To make my peace with her, I must atone;
but Henry only prayed that I might heal
and wished that God would one day make me well.
I wished that too, but I could not conceal
I feared I walked perdition's road to Hell.

I knew I'd pay for all my many wrongs;
I didn't know I'd live in minstrel's songs."

VII -- The Legend Lives on -- Rosamond's truths:

"I didn't know I'd live in minstrel's songs.
At Godstow was my wasted body laid.
A bishop said my shrine did not belong."
"Remove this harlot," callously, he bade.
"Thus I was cursed, and in that curse denied
all transport to Elysium and grace -
God's sanctuary for the purified;
not whores who die in scandal and disgrace..

So choir nuns without much more ado,
bore my young bones from church into the yard:"
"We pray that rest be given unto you,
God's fairest rose - from Heaven you are barred."
"So now I walk in Woodstock's garden green
and follow those who come to find their bliss.
I hide in shadows and remain unseen;
I do not know how true love came to this.

I was condemned, to that I can attest.
My ghost has found a place where it can rest."

A Crown of Heroic Sonnets
Contest Winner


Rosamundi: Latin, meaning Rose of the world.
Elysium - Gardens of the afterlife in Greek Mythology.
Artwork: from Wikipedia: 1917 Oil on canvas painting by John William Waterhouse, titled Fair Rosamund

Some of the spelling in this posting are Canadian spellings vs. US spellings. (Vapour / Vapor etc.)

My thanks to yeltel (Yelena) for sponsoring this contest once more. It is very challenging. My congratulations to all who enter. There is a lot of hard work involved, and it is a joy to see so many Fanstorians rising to the challenge.

Legend says Rosamond, who was a mistress of Henry II, was murdered by jealous Queen Eleanor in the royal palace of Woodstock, near Oxford.

Rosamond was very beautiful and Henry was drawn to her, so different from Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was also a beauty, but shrewd and no push-over.
Rosamond knew Henry was a womanizer long before his arrival and it was common knowledge that he had mistresses all over the kingdom. Yet it appears the King did fall in love with Rosamond and she too could find it in her heart to love him, though she was frightened she was sinning against God. The predicament aroused intense emotions in her; he was the King, after all. She tried not to commit adultery in her heart because adultery was a mortal sin.

Queen Eleanor was 45 years old and King Henry was 34.
For the next nine years, Eleanor would hear occasionally about Rosamond through songs of troubadours and minstrels. She had to accept that this was the first mistress Henry had taken seriously. Poor girl, obviously a virgin when he seduced her.

Eleanor in truth had nothing to do with Rosamond's death. Henry and her family, the Cliffords paid for her tomb at Godstow in the choir of the monastery church and for an endowment that would ensure care of the tomb by the nuns.

It became a popular local shrine until 1191, two years after Henry's death. Hugh of Lincoln, Bishop of Lincoln, noticed Rosamond's tomb right in front of the high altar. The tomb was laden with flowers and candles, demonstrating that the local people were still praying there. Unsurprisingly calling Rosamond a harlot, the bishop ordered her remains removed from the church.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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