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Still Waters

How Henry VIII planned Anne Boleyn beheading

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A self-indulgent self-serving beast. Faced with Henry's venal desires, and the power politics of court, Anne had no chance. Neither did her co-accused. They were all doomed. I suppose it was a small mercy that her head was taken off in one single stoke of the sword. Many were not so lucky at the hands of the monarch's executioner. Henry was more about mon droit than mon Dieu, and his personal motto - Coeur Loyal (True Heart) - could not be a more ironic mockery of his own self-indulgent behaviour. Whenever Henry VIII's name is mentioned I instantly think of his  obesity and ulcerated legs but also, as an amateur historian and speaker of the language, I think of Antaine O Raifeartaigh's wonderful poem:

                    Fág uaim do eaglais ghallda                          (Away with your English religion!
                    Is do chreideamh gan bonn gan bhrí              And your groundless deluded faith -
                    Mar gurb é is cloch bonn                                For the foundation stones of your church 
                    Magairlí Anraí Rí!                                            Are the balls of Henry VIII!)

Sorry for the crudity but a faithful and sympathetic translation of the original would have been spoiled by using the more polite word 'testicles'. This gem of a quatrain in the Irish language has some resonances that are lost in translation but not its main reference to Matthew 16:18 in which Jesus tells Peter that he is the 'rock' upon which he will build his church. 


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