A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature: over 400,000 monthly users
The queen woke in the large bed alone.
She’d been dreaming of a faraway war
She’d acquiesced to, children shivering
In the ruins. Her one power was
To agree with her ministers.
They bowed before her and she listened.
Or not. And agreed. She always agreed.
She felt small, a girl in a suit
Of armor designed for a man
Standing guard in the long corridor
Of her ancestry. She lived alone
With people who had jobs to do.
She had a job to do as well,
The embodiment of the nation.
People loved her as they might love
A flag or a map or a story
Of a country of green pastures
And low stone walls, a nation
Of cathedrals and small churches,
Quaint shops of stopped clocks
Precisely right twice a day
While city streets pounded
With angry music she didn’t understand
And crowds roiled in the tubes
Commuting to jobs they hated.
To many she was nothing more
Than a picture in The Times,
A portrait on a postage stamp,
A reminder of things best forgot.
The Crown her office was called,
A thing of gold wire and polished stones
Real enough to buy another decade,
Another gesture on the puppet stage.
She was a prisoner of the need
To believe their small country mattered.
What mattered to her were the horses.
She thanked Angela for dressing her
And walked quickly to the stables
Where her beauties
Were awake, steam flaring
From wide nostrils, eyes bright
For the queen of apples.
Her Majesty Elizabeth II (21 April 1926 – September 8, 2022)
“She felt small, a girl in a suit
Of armor designed for a man
Of her ancestry.”
I love how you honor the best in this quiet and complicated leader, Michael.
Thank you, Lisa!
Just back from Ireland & London, Michael, & it’s a pleasure to re-read your terrific poem. I’ve been a bit stunned at the degree to which the spectacle, pomp & ceremony of all this became inescapable, an every minute in-your-face experience — nearly impossible to avoid. There’s a deep (call it archetypal, if you like & you’re Jungian) collective human need to respond as if to the loss of a “Great Mother” . . . the dear mummy of a nation. It’s a kind of love. Nearly everyone who works in service in Great Britain, restaurants, hotels, etc. is originally from some far-flung once-upon-a-time corner of the Empire. I talked with several, cause the phenomenon fascinated me. So un-American. Most understood it, I’d say, to the extent they could agree, as respect for a nice lady. As for the monarchy — a much different story. For many, many Brits & “subjects” it’s a useless, embarrassing institution. I think there’s more than a little hope that this occasion may somehow lead to a change, though no one I talked with has any real idea how that could transpire.
Thanks, Mike. My impression of Q.E. was that she was born into an impossible job, an anachronistic role, a pretend monarchy, but she did the best she could to serve with grace and dignity. With a less popular monarch, I doubt the institution will survive.
Very nice Michael. I’m planning to send you a few poems at the end of September. Been beset (aren’t we all) with deaths, and downsizing, moving etc. But promise to send a few pieces you way. Always enjoy reading VP.
Thanks, Kathleen! Always a pleasure to hear from you.
Yes, a human being. A living being come to the end of her life. You capture the complexities, the humanity.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Ruth.
Well written this tribute, this memory of a woman certainly perfect in her role but the poisoned apples will have taken her but also given her some.
But poetry is really beautiful, sweet delicate and human, because then in the end a queen is still a human being.
Thank you, Marina, for this generous praise. You’ve captured the theme of the poem very well.
Lovely, Michael. I also really like this picture of the queen, clearly delighted as she communes with a horse. To me, her love of dogs and horses always made her relatable, human.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thanks, Kim. Yes, I think her love for dog and horses was deep and genuine.
LikeLiked by 3 people
The best way to remember. Best, JZ
Totally nailed it: the pathos of the monarch in general but also of Elizabeth II in particular. And I think there’s something universal about that pathos, too; we’re all monarchs of our little psychic kingdoms. “And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns…”
Well-said, John. Thank you!
What a wonderful poem, Michael! So timely too. (I have trouble trying to comment on the site. It asks for my web site and I put the whole thing in and it isn’t accepted. Keeps saying put in the URL. And yes, I tried it 4 different ways.) Anywho, I loved your poem and lots of the poems you publish. All Good Things, Deborah
Thanks, Deborah! Sorry you’re having trouble with the website.
This is great, Michael. I love it.
Thanks, Nancy. I appreciate it.
Wow, Mike — what a poem! “She was a prisoner of the need
To believe their small country mattered.”!!
Thanks, Laure-Anne. I thought Q.E. was born into an impossible job which she handled with grace and dignity, but her true love was being with her horses.
Horses were part of my symbolic world since i read They Shoot Horses, Do not They?. by Horace McCoy. On Great Depression.
Thank you, Saleh. I’m always honored by your attention, my friend.
Just a lovely poem, Michael! A golden cage indeed.And that Queen of Apples—perfect: touching,joyful and sad, simultaneously. Best,
Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:
You are commenting using your WordPress.com account.
( Log Out /
You are commenting using your Twitter account.
( Log Out /
You are commenting using your Facebook account.
( Log Out /
Connecting to %s
Notify me of new comments via email.
Notify me of new posts via email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Enter your email address to subscribe to Vox Populi for free.
Enter email address.
Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.
Blog at WordPress.com.