Elegy for Himself
Tichborne was not even thirty when he was executed and his bitterness
at his life ending almost before it is begun can be seen. 'And now I
die and now I am but made:' He was sentenced to death for being part
of a Catholic plot to murder Elizabeth. He wrote this poem just three
days before he was to meet with death.
The tone of Tichborne's poem is one of regret and sorrow that his life
is being ended before it's time and that what is left of his life will
be very unpleasant.
In Elegy For Himself we can tell that its verses are sextains - six
lined verses with a rhyming scheme ababcc. What is both interesting
and unusual in Tichborne's structure is the strength of the caesura in
every line - the pause in the middle of a metrical line. The poem has
5 beats and adds to the melancholic feeling with its sad, slow rhythm.
When I read this poem and truly hear it, I picture a man huddled in
the corner of his cell, awaiting death, listening to the slow plodding
sounds of the jailor's feet, who comes to take yet another man to his
fate. I also can imagine Tichborne walking slowly to the headsman's
block in time with the poem and placing his head on the block. Then
comes the sense of finality 'and now my life is done. ' as the axe
Tichborne includes a number of other images that represents his short
life, such as 'my thread is cut'. Another image Tichborne uses the
contrast of his 'crop of corn' to the 'field of tares'. This line
contain these contrasting images to add emphasis. the corn represents
those who live good lives and the tares represent the evil doers. This
line squeezes a lot of meaning into a very short space. 'My feast of
joy', another image used by the poet probably refers to the fulfilling
religious aspect to his brief life. This 'feast' is an obvious
contrast to the far smaller-sounding 'dish of pain'. It may be that
this has added meaning, as what I feel that the poet is trying to
communicate is that though his life was short, and though he hadn't
done all that he had hoped to, the huge 'joy' he gained from religion
more than compensated...