Elizabeth I as Poet: Some Notes on “On Monsieur’s Departure” and John Dowland’s “Now O Now I Needs Must Part”
Elizabeth I’s skill as a poet was well-known to her contemporaries and her poems offer further evidence of her mastery of language and rhetoric. This essay focuses on On Monsieur’s Departure, a poem she wrote in 1582, when the marriage negotiations with François, Duke of Alençon/Anjou proved unsuccessful. The poem, Petrarchan both in topic and sentiment, is here stylistically connected to John Dowland’s song Now O now I needs must part, which was composed on the occasion of the duke’s second and last visit to Elizabeth I’s court. The song, based on a popular tune known as the Frog Galliard, describes the suffering of a heartbroken lover, elaborating on the themes of absence and desire.