The Devonshire Manuscript/To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte

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The Devonshire Manuscript
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I may well say with Ioyfull harte And now my pen alas wyth wyche I wryte
The Devonshire Manuscript facsimile 29r

 f. [29r] 

1    To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte
2    both I and my penne there to wyll aply
3    and thowgh that I can not yor goodnes aquyte
4    In ryme and myter elegantly
5    yet do I meane as faythfully
6    As euer dyd louer for hys part
7    I take god to record whych knowyth my hart

8    And where as ye wyll contynew myne
9    To reporte for me ye may be bold
10    That yff I had lyves as argus had yne
11    yet soner all them lyse I wold
12    then to be tempte for fere or for gold
13    yow to refuse or to forsake
14    wych ys my faythful and louyng make

15    Wych faythfullnes ye dyd euer pretend
16    and gentylnes as now I see
17    off me wych was yowr pore old frend
18    yowr louyng husband now to be
19    synce1 ye desende from yor degre
20    take ye thys vnto yowr part
21    my faythful / trwe and louyng hart

22    for terme off lyfe thys gyft ye haue
23    Thus now adwe my none swete wyfe2
24    from T. h. wych nowght doth crave3, 4
25    but yow the stay off all my lyfe
26    and the that wold other bate or stryfe
26    to be tyed wyth yn yoower louyng bandys
27    I wold the were on goodwyn sandys5


Notes & Glosses edit

     1. This is an unusual spelling.
     2. This phrase is repeated.
     3. Presumably, the initials refer to Lord Thomas Howard.
     4. The space in the text was created and the initials were added later, not unlike the gaps on "O very lord / o loue / o god alas" (29v).
     5. The Goodwin Sands are notorious shoals off the coast of Dover.

Commentary edit

Attributed to Lady Margaret Douglas,[1] this poem denotes her feelings for her husband, Lord Thomas Howard. "To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte," entered by TH2, follows the same ruled page format as the preceding poem. Helen Baron observes that "I may well say with Ioyfull harte" (28v) and "To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte" follow an epistolary formulae: "I may well say with Ioyfull harte" ends with the hope that the two will meet again (line 24), and this poem responds to the plea, beginning: "To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte / both I and my penne there to wyll aply" (lines 1-2).[2] While E.A. Bond argues that this relation shows internal evidence that the lovers exchanged letters during imprisonment in the Tower,[3] Baron notes that no existing evidence supports the theory that Margaret wrote in the manuscript while at the Tower.[4]

Works Cited edit