Doubt Of Future Foes By Elizabeth Essay

, Research Paper

"The Doubt of Future Foes" by Queen Elizabeth I The doubt of future

foes exiles my present joy, And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten

mine annoy. For falsehood now doth flow, and subject faith doth ebb, Which would

not be, if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web. But clouds of toys untried do

cloak aspiring minds, Which turn to rain of late repent, by course of changed

winds. The top of hope supposed, the root of ruth will be, And fruitless all

their graffed guiles, as shortly ye shall see. The dazzled eyes with pride,

which great ambition blinds, Shall be unsealed by worthy wights whose foresight

falsehood finds. The daughter of debate, that eke discord doth sow Shall reap no

gain where former rule hath taught still peace to grow. No foreign banished

wight shall anchor in this port, Our realm it brooks no stranger?s force, let

them elsewhere resort. Our rusty sword with rest, shall first his edge employ To

poll their tops that seek such change and gape for joy. Written in 1568 by one

of England?s most outstanding rulers, "The Doubt of Future Foes"

captures a time of distress for Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth Jenkins, one of the

great Queen?s biographers, stated that "Elizabeth was not poetical, but

she shared that extraordinary gift of expression that was general among the

English of the time, and once or twice she wrote some remarkable verse" (Jenkens,

Elizabeth the Great, 1958). In this particular "remarkable verse,"

Elizabeth composed sixteen lines describing the troubled state of England and

prophesied the fate of her enemies. Elizabeth uses alliteration in several

lines, such as "wisdom weaved the web" and "foresight falsehood

finds," which reflects her well-educated and cultured background. However,

the poem appears to be mainly a product of Elizabeth?s struggles with

adversaries and a threat to those who had the "aspiring minds" to

attempt to remove her from the throne. The poem is written in octosyllabics:

rhyming couplets with twelve syllables in the first line and fourteen syllables

in the second line. This meter drums out a steady, forceful rhythm that further

drills in the highly moralistic message of "loyalty? or else." The

first two lines state that Elizabeth?s fear ("doubt") about her

enemies prevents her from being happy, and that if she were smart, she would

ignore the traps those enemies had set in place to harm her with. Her cousin,

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, had been giving her cousin grief about

Elizabeth?s unfulfilled promise when Mary was imprisoned to help her regain

her throne (and succeeded in labeling Elizabeth as a hypocrite), but Mary

refused to acknowledge the fact that Elizabeth had saved her life countless

times. Her cousin also had her eyes on the British crown and appealed to

Elizabeth?s sympathy to begin to win it. However, advised by Sir William Cecil

that her cousin had "an appetite to the Crown," she handled Mary?s

demands, such as for Elizabeth?s own royal garments, with caution and

limitation. At this point in history, Elizabeth was also angered that the

northern Catholics had spurned her exceptionally tolerant religious policy. The

Catholics had always wanted Elizabeth ousted from the throne because she had

committed the travesty of being Protestant, and they looked at anything

controversial that she did as a way to get her out. Line three describes

treachery and devotion as a wave that recedes and swells; at the present time,

allegiance is short of hand and treason is a constant threat. However, Elizabeth

states in line four that if people had intelligence and common sense, they would

be loyal to her. She feels this way not only because of her religious beliefs,

but also because of the simple fact that she is Queen. Her subjects may be

rebellious now, when they feel they may have a chance at overthrowing her, but

ultimately she is still in power and has a golden finger to direct their fate.

She alludes to the impending tools and tricks that her adversaries will use

against her as clouds that will fall as rain when her enemies change their minds

and beg pardon. She also portrays their false fronts as a shoot grafted into the

growing plant of the kingdom of England, with hope as the leaves

("top") and sorrow ("ruth") as the roots, but which will

yield no profits ("fruit") as long as they are disloyal. She then

states that their vain eyes, full of impatient anticipation, will be opened by a

noble person (a "worthy wight") who foresees their treachery.

Elizabeth refers to her cousin Mary as "the daughter of debate"

because she had caused so much scandal and controversy. She predicts that no

matter what conflict Mary began, she would never have success because the

Reformation of England has trained her, as Queen, to maintain peace. No foreign

or exiled person such as Mary would sit at the throne of England, because the

kingdom does not allow strangers ruling it. Let them go somewhere else,

Elizabeth declares, because that will not be tolerated in my country. The poem

ends with a resonating threat that foreshadows the fate of Mary. The

executioner?s sword which has not been used in so long will strike off the

heads of those that wish to change monarchs, and these implementations of death

will bring joy and prosperity back to the Kingdom. Elizabeth?s prediction

became reality when Mary was charged with being accessory to an attempted murder

of Elizabeth and was beheaded in 1587, and William Byrd wrote a song that echoed

Elizabeth?s foretelling nearly twenty years before: "The noble famous

queen/Who lost her head of late/Doth show that kings as well as clowns/Are bound

to Fortunes? fate,/And that no earthly Prince/Can so secure his crown/But

Fortune with her whirling wheel/Hath power to pull them down" (Jenkins,

316). It was said among those who knew her that Elizabeth never wept again as

she did when Mary was executed. However, as a strong ruler, she did what was

necessary for the well-being of her country, and she rid England of its

opponents. She would have no more fear of future foes.

Elizabeth, I. "The Doubt of Future Foes." 1568. Jenkins, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth the Great. 1958.


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