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The Queen of Defiance

By Durdana Ghias

This dramatic monologue rests on the novel 'The Other Boleyn Girl' by Philippa Gregory. The story is about Anne Boleyn (1507?-1536) the second wife of King Henry VIII of the Tudor dynasty of England who married six women in a quick succession and eventually killed them. The Other Boleyn Girl looks at Anne's story from the eyes of her sister, Mary, who had been Henry's mistress before he met Anne. Hers was the first public execution of an English queen. Anne Boleyn is the mother of Queen Elizabeth I.

I was only a girl of fifteen
When I came to the English court,
With soaring ambitions
And a heart that knew to abhor.
My eyes were dark
As the dark of the night,
My gait was light
As the downy seagull's flight,
My locks were just
Like the fountain
Tumbling down the mountain height,
And none was there
Who could deny
My beauty and its might.
But I had the anger
Of a perturbed adder
And if I was ignored
I grew mad as a hatter.
The only thing I wished to do
Was to play pander
To the Emperor.
I learned the skills
To ensnare the King
And succeeded in winning
The betrothal ring.
He was besotted with
The mystery in my eyes
But he did not know
There lay avarice in disguise.
He marveled at me
While I danced on the floor
Like a young princess
Walking out alive from lore.
* * *
For me he left his wife
Katharine of Spain
Her fault was that
None of her sons lived to reign.
I rode with her husband
While she hovered alone
Being vainly sanguine
And praying in an undertone
While I went with him
She stood at the embrasure
Finding that only God
Was there to assure.
While I was in his room
She was left in her chamber
Bereft of the love
That she could only remember
The King annulled her marriage
And with me the knot was tied
She watched with calm
But she was brittle inside.
I banished her from the court
To the faraway fens,
No one mentioned her name
She was forgotten
Like derelict country lanes.
I left her there, tucked away
From where she couldn't vie
And she had painfully enough time
To think of what went awry.
I disinherited her daughter
So that mine would be enthroned
I took all the regal jewels
Which she had once owned.
He reveled in my beauty
And I reveled in his power
He was growing into a tyrant
Of which I was unaware.
I took all her friends
To the scaffold
And made her utterly forlorn
While she grew old.
I won the people's aversion
But the mob loved her with grace
They loved to curse me
While I strolled through the place.
* * *
But years after our marriage
I couldn't give him an heir
My future looked bleak
And I was engulfed in despair.
For years I tried
To give him a son
And I loved him
As a dutiful wife ever had done.
* * *
Then his taste for love
Started to change
As a stoat changes to white in winter,
He began to like
My ladies-in-waiting
Their flirtatious looks and simpers.
He rode with his favourite
While I was lying-in with his child
He strolled with the girls
While I was told to be mild.
There was angry sparring
When we stormed at each other
But when it had been over
I gathered he was mine forever.
But soon I realized
He was no more a tethered bear of mine
Instead he was a baited one
Who never wished to recline.
As the days wore on
He began to be more remiss
In his love towards me,
Which stung me like the bites
Of an insufferable bee.
My days became desolate
As he flitted from one girl to another
And my nights were lonely
As I lay on my bed bereft of my lover.
I became defiant to get him back
But all in vain
In the back of my mind I was in step with
The Katharine of Spain.
I refused to admit my fault
As I was a Boleyn girl
Even when I was torn apart
And the reality started to unfurl.
He went to hunt with Jane
At his side
While I waited at the embrasure
My mind seething inside.
While I dined with him
He made eyes at Jane
I pretended to see nothing
But that drove me insane.
When he left with Jane
I was left alone,
But I refused to recall
That I did the same
To the Katharine of Aragon.
I stood at the window
And watched him go
I felt that the Styx of my fate
Had started to flow.
I hovered in the empty palace
Listening to my sigh
The sighs of Katharine
Mingled well nigh.
I clad myself in striking colours
To catch his eyes
But his eyes hovered on Jane
Who was a witch inside.
* * *
The royal privy council
Branded me a witch
The king liked me no more
So I had to be ditched.
My friends and I
Were charged with treason
We were wiped out of court
Without any specific reason.
I was put in the prison
And urged God for help
I could do nothing to myself
But cry and yelp.
I could not sleep at night
And wept all day
While Jane chose her wedding gown
Exultant and gay.
I wrote Katharine's fate
When I was Henry's love
And Jane wrote mine
As if I was something that can be shoved.
My life was shunted
In the blink of an eye
Once I was the Queen
Now I was going to die.
I hovered in my tiny cell
Thinking what went awry
As did Katharine when I banished her
And killed her on the sly.
I watched from my window
When they beheaded
My friends and my brother,
I felt like a caged bird
Who can do nothing but flutter.
I was left all alone
Gripped with nothing but fear
Weeping and yelping
That was all I could hear.
He annulled my marriage
And I became demented
But I could do nothing
As my fate was being cemented.
* * *
I was pledged a royal pardon
And go into exile
It was my fault that
Henry was no longer virile.
Anger stocked up inside me
Like a surging bonfire
What was my fault
When Henry was unable to sire?
I waited with anticipation
With a hope that was battered
He reneged on the pledge
And my heart was shattered.
On the scaffold
Death was awaiting me
And in Henry's palace
There was a wedding spree.
* * *
I walked up the scaffold
I curtsied in front of the priest
I was denuded of any feelings
I did not feel the least.
I said my final words
And felt myself base
I took off my French hood
And my necklace.
When I was blindfolded
My mind went blank
I could not think what went wrong
That I had to walk the plank.
It was my ill-lived life
That I cast around for
It was a boat of vicious ambitions
Without any oar.
I waited for a flitting moment
As a lady steadied my arms
The axe touched my neck
I accepted death with calm.
* * *
I boasted to my sister
That I would marry the best,
Now as I see my body put at rest
I feel with pain
That I had laid my life down to waste.
I spent a life of greed and jest,
The mob is eager
To watch in haste,
They look at me with eyes
Teeming with distaste.
Leaving the world in disgrace
I commend my soul to Jesus Christ.





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