Monday, January 23, 2006

Working with Images 4



Working with Images (4)

One of my all time favourite poems is possibly the only one written by its author – or at least the only known one.  He has an unusual name Chidiock Tichborne, one which I particularly like for its uniqueness.  Who was this Chidiock Tichborne, you may ask?   Well, he lived in Elizabethan times.  This is what the Wikipedia says (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chidiock_Tichborne ): “In 1583, Tichborne and his father were arrested and questioned concerning the use of "popish relics". Though released without charge, records suggest that this was not the last time they were to be questioned by the authorities over their religion (Roman Catholic obviously). 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 a double agent 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 sentenced to death.”
So much for the background.  What really moves me is the imagery which the young Chidiock uses in this famous poem written shortly before he was executed for treason at the early age of 28 years:
On the Eve of His Execution
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.
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.
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;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
   Chidiock Tichborne (1558September 20, 1586)
The picture I have placed at the top centre of this post is one I took of the Pope's Cross, Phoenix Park, Dublin in 2003.

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