King Charles the Poet

Ah, Pursuit of Poesy Friday! You’ve been missed dear friend, like a recalcitrant sibling whose unspoken of absence at family gatherings remains so painful. This series of posts serves two purposes; Firstly, it features commentary on an interesting and/or relevant Early Modern poem, or poems, for your delectation. Secondly, it shamelessly pimps a new post on my other blog: Scribbled Poetry. Scribbled Poetry charts my, very slow, progress in teaching myself to write poetry through the use of Mr Stephen Fry’s book “The Ode Less Travelled”.


So, the new post at Scribbled Poetry can be found here: Scribbled Poetry

Swiftly we turn from the whoring of my own work to a man renowned for his… *ahem*… general love of a mistress or two: Mr Charles Stuart the Second. I had a sneaky suspicion that Charles must have written poetry, being a man who surrounded himself at court by writers, musicians and wits. However, I’ve found it hard to find more than this example of his attempt at poetry, I suspect I am not looking in the right places. If any readers know of more poems by Charles please let me know in the comments section and I’ll feature them on another ‘Poesy Friday’ post. The lack of poetry may be due to Charles’ acknowledged reluctance to embrace the literature in any academic sense. He was instructed by one of his tutors that:


“I would rather have you study things than words, matter than language”.


Charles’ favour of experimental ‘science’ may have been an unexpected consequence of this approach.


So to the writing itself, unsurprisingly it is a love poem. It was written for Frances Stewart, who famously refused to succumb to the King’s advances. Perhaps Charles turned to poetry in increasing desperation to woo his lady?


Charles II poem to Frances Stewart

I pass all my hours in a shady old grove,
But I love not the day when I see not my love:
I survey ev’ry walk now my Phyllis is gone,
And sigh when I think we were there all alone;
O then ’tis, O then that I think there’s no Hell
Like loving too well.

But each shade and each conscious bo’wr when I find,
Where I once had been happy and she had been kind,
When I see the print left of her foot in the green,
And imagine the pleasures may yet come again;
O then ’tis, O then that no joy’s above 
The pleasures of love.

Whilst alone to myself I repeat all her charms,
She I love may be lock’d in another man’s arms;
She may laugh at my cares and so fla se she may be,
To say the kind things she before said to me,
O then ’tis, O then that I think here’s no Hell
Like loving too well.

But when I consider the truth of her heart
Such an innocent passion, so kind without art,
I do fear I have wrong’d her and so she may be
So full of true love to be jealous of me.
O then ’tis, O then I think no joy’s above
The pleasure of love.

Previous Pursuit of Poesy Friday posts can be found by clicking the ‘Poesy Friday’ tag.


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