Poems by Janice McFarlane

I Send a Valentine

My dearest sir, I greet you
And with full heart beseech you
My love flies out to reach you
And is waiting for a sign

Your good health, sir, I pray for
Your heart’s desire I stay for
There is no day to awake for
With no word from you I pine

I wait upon your news, love
The turtle dove coos soft, love
And all the wide world woos
Yet I cannot call you mine

No one will know my pain, dear
It is my life’s refrain, dear
But silent as spring rain, dear
And it glows like sweetest wine

Terms have to be agreed, love
Fathers have their needs, love
Sad is my heart indeed, love
But truth untarnishes shines

For if you were right poor, dear
It’s still you I’d adore, dear
I’d ask no more from you, dear
Love’s bright gold is most fine

And test me to prove true, sir
No harsh trial could undo, sir
My love’s true pledge to you, sir
Tied up with strongest bine

And if friends find me wrong now
I’ll sing on soft my song now
Love-longing is my life now
From this I’ll not repine

God’s Trinity keep you well, love
Remember where I dwell, love
There’s no-one else I tell, love
Treasure close these loving lines.

 

You Are My Best Beloved Valentine

You are my best beloved Valentine

I greet you here in my most humble guise
And thank you for the note sent in disguise

You are my best beloved Valentine

Your song engraves my heart with clear design
A mirror of your soul and heart and mind

You are my best beloved Valentine

You’ll visit soon and I must save my sighs
Whilst you engage with father for your pride

You are my best beloved Valentine

And if you cannot get what you desire
From love’s green field you say you will retire

You are my best beloved Valentine

I cannot change the price set on my head
I only know I want us to be wed

You are my best beloved Valentine

I shall be love-lorn if you walk away
But love you still through all the nights and days

You are my best beloved Valentine

 

One Word From a Woman

Sweet heart, more news in haste after the last.
Two well-horsed and well-manned carts
have been at the mill at Marlingford and driven
away with our mixed grain and wheat -
probably to Bungay first. There’s talk of Byron
taking ship with all the sacks complete.


Cousin Gurney suggests you turn to Lady Norfolk.
One word from a woman does more than twenty
from a man, he says, though I ‘must’ curb my
tongue concerning Uncle William, given how
my lady’s patronage and care for him is sung.
If you agree and bid me so to do, I promise
that my words will not displease her and shall
profit you. The Oxnead estate must wait its turn.

Cousin Gurney knows it is our lady of Norfolk
whose disposition decides who lives, so to speak,
or burns. If our ladyship comes to Norwich for
her pilgrimage then Lady Calthorpe, your mother,
my mother and myself can speak with her of this.
We shall resolve the case and my lady keeps face.

 

Let No Ladies

Good fortune be our stay

My reverend and
worshipful sir,
God serve your heart
and your pleasure

Good fortune be our stay

I thank you for
the deer meat sent
for my delight,
a compliment

Good fortune be our stay

And your ship sails
from its harbour
this very day
and will prosper

Good fortune be our stay

I send for you
through brother Will
your waistcoat, sir,
of damask silk

Good fortune be our stay


The velvet cape,
it is not here,
you cased it up
in London there

Good fortune be our stay

Your children, they
are full alive and,
blessed be God,
they grow and thrive

Good fortune be our stay

I thank you for
the gold you’ll send
to Norwich now
which I attend

Good fortune be our stay

At Yarmouth is
the well-turned mast
you left – it’s leased,
and it should last

Good fortune be our stay

The yield is nearly
fourteen pounds
whilst the wood
proves it is sound

Good fortune be our stay

And if it breaks,
they’ll make it new
and all the good
things here are true

Good fortune be our stay

And let no ladies
interfere
with business or
with you, my dear

Good fortune be our stay

 

New Times, 1489

New times now.
You serve the Earl
of Oxford  - and
he such a man
for the sea with
his High Admiralty.

What to do about
the beached whale?
My brother William
wants no part.
The half form of
its lower jaw
will be reckoned
between your new
lord and the king.
The body’s flesh
is for the people
if they want the
fishy thing.

And my lords will sail
to Brittany from
Portsmouth, though
the French fight hard
and the English hold
just one fort.

But I have made my
pilgrimage. Our
lives are short.
Let all men muster.
Let them try not to
lose what it is
they believe that
they have caught.