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Queen Elizabeth I: "The Doubt of Future Foes," "On Monsieur's Departure" and "Speech to the Troops at Tilbury."

Vocabulary: Renaissance, oxymoron, enallage

Introduction: What is significant about the years 1558-1603? What are some of the interesting ways Queen Elizabeth depicted hersaelf in art, speeches, and literature?

Lecture or Handouts: Handout on Henry VIII's wives.

Identify the Following People
Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Reading Questions:

  • "The Doubt of Future Foes"
  • What exiles the speaker's present joy, or makes her unhappy?
  • Elizabeth uses the word "doubt" in an unusual way in the opening lines of her poem. What does she mean by "doubt"?
  • What does Elizabeth claim will never anchor in this port [London]?
  • What is a wight?
  • Elizabeth refers to England's sword as "rusty sword with rest." What does she mean by this image? What does she imply about England's prior political state before the threat of future foes appeared?
  • What is the first "employment" or task this sword will have? (I.e., what does it mean "to poll the tops" of those who seek change in England's independence? (Look up the word "poll" in an older dictionary to find this meaning.)
  • "On Monsieur's Departure"
  • From the title, it appears the speaker is upset about something. What event has inspired the poem, apparently? What does the gender appear to be of the poetic speaker?
  • The poem uses a series of oxymora or contrasts to make its points in stanza one. List at least one example of such an oxymoron.
  • In stanza two, the speaker compares her cares to a shadow. Why is a shadow an appropriate image, according to the content of stanza two?
  • In stanza three, why does the speaker claim she is made "of melting snow"? How is that image of something once cold but now turning hot appropriate for the situation?
  • What does the poetic speaker mean when she commands her implied audience, "be more cruel, love, and so be kind"?
  • In the concluding lines, the speaker hopes for one of two events to happen. What is the first event she hopes might happen? If that doesn't occur, what is the second event she hopes will happen so she can forget her love?
  • Speech to The British Troop at Tilbury
  • What, according to Elizabeth, has always been her chief strength and safeguard? How does this contrast with the fear Tyrants must always feel?
  • Elizabeth claims that her body is but that "of a weak and feeble woman," but she also claims to have two body parts of a king. What are those two body parts?
  • What does Elizabeth say she will personally "take up" in response to those who dishonor her by invading the borders of her realm?
  • What two things does Elizabeth say her troops deserve for their bravery and loyalty?


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