The Devonshire Manuscript/I may well say with Ioyfull harte

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The Devonshire Manuscript
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Who hath more cawse for to complayne To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte
The Devonshire Manuscript facsimile 28v

 f. [28v] 

1    I may well say with{w+t+} Ioyfull harte1
2    as neuer woman myght say beforn
3    that I haue takyn to my part
4    the faythfullyst louer that ever was born

5    great paynes he suffereth for my sake
6    contynnually both nyght and day
7    for all the paynes that he doth take
8    from me hys loue wyll not decay

9    Wyth thretnyng great he hath ben sayd
10    off payne and yke off punnysment
11    yt all fere asyde he hath layed
12    to loue me best was hys yntent

13    Who shall let me then off ryght
14    onto myself hym to retane
15    and loue hym best both day and nyght
16    yn recompens off hys great payne

17    yff I had more more he shold haue
18    and that I kno he knowys full well
19    to loue hym best vnto my graue
20    off that he may both bye and sell

21    And thus fare well my hartes{es} desyer
22    the only stay off me and myne
23    onto god dayly I make my prayer
24    to bryng vs shortly both in one lyne

finis

Notes & Glosses[edit]

     1. There is no clear reason for the crossout of e, but it does enable a graphic rhyme with "part."

Commentary[edit]

Attributed to Lady Margaret Douglas,[1] this poem denotes her feelings for her husband, Lord Thomas Howard. "I may well say with loyfull harte", entered by TH2, is one of the few ruled pages in the manuscript. Other ruled pages include: "The knot which fyrst my hart did strayn" (23r) through "O ye louers that hygh vpon the whele" (30r) and "What deth ys worse then thys" (39r) through "ther ys no cure ffor care off miyd" (41r). Helen Baron observes that "I may well say with Ioyfull harte" (28v) and the following poem "To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte" (29r) follow an epistolary formulae: the poem ends with the hope that the two will meet again (line 24), and the next poem responds to this plea, beginning: "To yowr gentyll letters an answere to resyte / both I and my penne there to wyll aply" (29r, 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]