Saturday, February 03, 2007

"Think on Me"

The last several months I've taken to collecting poems. I'm not necessarily a student of poetry, but lately some poems have really touched me. So here's a poem attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots. It is said that she wrote this while imprisoned in England, awaiting execution. I think it's very sweet and heart-wrenching at the same time. It's a lyric poem that was set to music by James Mulholland. I heard this sung by a men's choir at a concert last March. I saved the concert program and happened to come across it earlier this week and it's been on my mind.

"When I no more behold thee, think on me.
By all thine eyes have told me, think on me.
When hearts are lightest, when eyes are brightest, when griefs are slightest,
Think on me.

In all thine hours of gladness, think on me.
If e’er I soothed thy sadness, think on me.
When foes are by thee, when woes are nigh thee, when friends all fly thee,
Think on me.

When thou hast none to cheer thee, think on me.
When no fond heart is near thee, think on me.
When lonely sighing o’er pleasure flying,
When hope is dying,
Think on me."

I've been reading about Mary, Queen of Scots all morning. She became Queen shortly after she was born. I don't know if she wrote this for anyone in particular. She married three times. The first husband apparently was her only true love, but he died 17 months after their marriage from an ear infection. This poem might have been written for her son. I can't find any history on it. I actually can't find it anywhere except in reference to the arrangement for choir.

Anyway, I love it. If anyone happens to have any more information on its origins, please share.


Si's blog said...

Thanks for this.

Saw the BYU Men's Chorus do this song today and wrote a blog post about it. Very moving.

Anonymous said...

I was looking for sheet music for this piece when I ran across your website. I sang it in high school and thought you'd like to know the background. From what I know, she wrote it while she was in prison, waiting to be beheaded for treason.

Anonymous said...

I am actually working on this piece now. I have been trying to find some more information so I could be positive. I do believe this was a letter that she wrote to her husband while she was locked in a tower, waiting to be beheaded. She wrote it because she wasn't going to see him again. From what I know, he never even got to read the letter.

Si's blog said...

Google this. Lots of stuff available.

Not a scholar on this but believe Mary was referring to her one true love, Francis II of France.

Really interesting. Eager to hear what you do with it.

Migillicutty said...

She wrote it when she was imprisoned by Elizabet I in the Tower of London, to either her husband or her son, I can't remember. I sang it with my choir a few years ago and it was so beautiful and sad.... it made me cry.

Anonymous said...

Lovely song and poem! However, I don't think she would have written this song to any of her husbands, bacause all three of the mhad died prior to her execution. Her third and final husband died almost 10 years before her execution. Just thought that might clear some things up. :) Although, she was imprisoned for nearly 20 years, so I suppose it is possible she wrote it to him? However, if she had written it while he was still alive, she would not yet suspect her execution for at that time she still had high hopes of freedom.
Thank you for posting the poem!

Anonymous said...

I am going to be preforming that song at a concert soon, (solo!) and my choir teacher said that I should look up information about her. This was very useful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The song "Think On Me," was written by Scottish poet and composer Lady John Scott (nee Alicia Ann Spottiswoode), who also composed music for "Annie Laurie" and other songs. "Think On Me" was published posthumously in 1910, after Lady Scott's death in 1910. I don't know how Mary Queen of Scots, four centuries prior, has become associated with this song.

Anonymous said...

From what my choir teacher tells me, this was written by her for her brother the night before she was beheaded by the queen out of jealousy, the queen was jealous of Mary Queen of Scots because she was more popular with the people, so she imprisoned her for 20 years then finally decided to behead her, it was written as a poem then later arranged for a choir piece, it was her way of telling her brother that everything would be ok and after the beheading there was a public outrage

Linda said...

Queen Mary was never in the tower. She was always housed in various castles. Some run down and some not. She kept her ladies and other employees with her, but they dwindled down through time and her movements became very restricted. She was at Fotheringay castle before she was murdered my her cousin Queen Elizabeth Tutor. Queen Elizabeth Tutor killed everyone that had any royal blood in them because she didn't want them to take over the crown of England as she saw the attempts on her half-sister Mary Tutor. Elizabeth Tutor also converted to the Protestant Religion and Queen Mary Stuart was Catholic. It was during the reformation and Elizabeth didn't want the Catholic supporters to rescue Queen Mary, so Elizabeth killed her. The song is lovely.

Anonymous said...

Im In 6th grade singing this for solo and ensemble wish me luck

Laura Lee said...

Good luck singing it! It's a great song. I'm sure you'll be great :)

Anonymous said...

There is a good edition of the poems of Mary Queen of Scots, "Bittersweet within my Heart".

This poem isn't in it.

She didn't write it. It's by Lady John Scott, and she didn't have Queen Mary in mind while writing it, either.

The misattribution seems to be due to some damn fool Canadian choral arranger and it's spread round the Internet like anthrax.

Anonymous said...

"Margaret Tudor" was Mary Queen of Scots. She was my 12th grandmother. She died in 1541 of a stroke at 51 years old.

I thank dearly Anonymous that wrote on the 25 of July 2015 at 7:55 for clearing this up. They made the same error at my daughter's high school this evening, by quoting the same poorly researched material.

I'm happy someone else actually researched this piece and gave credit where credit was due. And stop those simply untrue rumors regarding our families.

Barbara Shields