Elizabethan Sonnet Month
Anne Cecil de Vere, Countess of Oxford (1556-88)
In 1584, John Soowthern included in his collection of poems, Pandora a series of
sonnets attributed to Anne de Vere, Countess of Oxford, on the death of her infant son the
year before. Vere's clear disapointment at the child's death, the dynamic aspects of which are
subsumed withinn the personal discourse of maternal lament, resonates throughout the four
complete sonnets and the two fragments printed by Soowthern.
Grief and gender, 700-1700; By Jennifer C. Vaught, Lynne Dickson Bruckner 206
Published in John Soowthern's book, Pandora in 1584
Had with the moorning the Gods left their willes undone
They had not so soone herited such a soule:
Or if the mouth, tyme did not glotton up all.
Nor I, nor the world, were depriv'd of my Sonne,
Whose brest Venus, with a face dolefull and milde,
Doth washe with golden teares, inveying [sic] the skies
And when the water of the Goddesses eyes,
Makes almost, alive, the Marble, of my Childe:
One byds her leave styll, her dollor so extreme,
Telling her it is not, her young sonne Papheme,
To which she makes aunswer with a voice inflamed
(Feeling therewith her venime, to be more bitter)
As I was of Cupid, even so of it mother
"And a womans last chylde, is the most beloved"
In dolefull wayes I spend the wealth of my time:
Feeding on my heart, that ever comes agen.
Since the ordinaunce, of the Destin's, hath ben,
To end of the Saissons, of my yeeres the prime
With my Sonne, my Gold, my Nightingale, and Rose,
Is gone: for t'twas in him and no other where:
And well though mine eies run downe like fountaines here
The stone wil not speak yet, that doth it inclose.
And Destins, and Gods, you might rather have tanne,
My twentie yeeres: then the two daies of my sonne.
And of this world what shall I hope, since I knoe,
That in his respect, it can yeeld but mosse:
Or what should I consume any more in woe,
When Destins, Gods, and worlds, are all in my losse.
The hevens, death, and life? have conjured my yll:
For death hath take away the breath of my sonne:
The hevens receve, and consent, that he hath donne:
And my life dooth keepe mee heere against my will.
But if our life be caus'de with moisture and heate,
I care neither for the death, the life, nor skyes:
For I'll sigh him warmth, and weat him with my eies:
(And thus I shall be thought a second Promėt)
And as for life, let it do me all despite:
For if it leave me, I shall goe to my childe:
And it in the hevens, there is all my delyght.
And if I live, my vertue is immortall.
"So that the hevens, death and life, when they doo all
"Their force: by sorrowfull vertue th'are beguild.
Idall, for Adon, nev'r shed so many teares:
Nor Thet', for Pelid: nor Phoebus, for Hyacinthusj
Nor for Atis, the mother of Prophetesses
At the brute of it, the Aphroditan Queene,
Caused more silver to distyll fro her eyes:
Then when the droppes of her cheeke raysed Daisyes:
And to die with him, mortall, she would have beene.
The Charits, for it breake their Perug, of golde:
The Muses, and the Nymphes of Cave: I beholde:
All the gods under Olympus are constraint,
On Laches, Clothon, and Atropos to plaine.
And yet beauties, for it doth make no complaint:
For it liv'de with him, and died with him againe.