O, thou didst prophesy the time would come
That I should wish for thee to help me curse
That bottled spider, that foul bunch-backed toad!
Oh, you prophesied that the time would come when I would want your help in cursing that humpbacked spider, that hideous toad!
I called thee then “vain flourish of my fortune.”
85I called thee then poor shadow, “painted queen,”
The presentation of but what I was,
The flattering index of a direful pageant,
One heaved a-high, to be hurled down below,
A mother only mocked with two fair babes,
90A dream of what thou wast, a garish flag
To be the aim of every dangerous shot,
A sign of dignity, a breath, a bubble,
A queen in jest, only to fill the scene.
Where is thy husband now? Where be thy brothers?
95Where are thy two sons? Wherein dost thou joy?
Who sues and kneels and says “God save the queen?”
Where be the bending peers that flattered thee?
Where be the thronging troops that followed thee?
Decline all this, and see what now thou art:
100For happy wife, a most distressèd widow;
For joyful mother, one that wails the name;
For queen, a very caitiff crowned with care;
For she that scorned at me, now scorned of me;
For she being feared of all, now fearing one;
105For she commanding all, obeyed of none.
Thus hath the course of justice whirled about
And left thee but a very prey to time,
Having no more but thought of what thou wast
To torture thee the more, being what thou art.
110Thou didst usurp my place, and dost thou not
Usurp the just proportion of my sorrow?
Now thy proud neck bears half my burdened yoke,
From which even here I slip my weary head
And leave the burthen of it all on thee.
115Farewell, York’s wife, and queen of sad mischance.
These English woes will make me smile in France.
Back then, I called you “a poor, imitation queen,” a badly reproduced copy of what I was, a pretty prologue for the tragedy that was about to follow, a woman who was lifted high only to be hurled down to hell, a mother only teased with two beautiful children, who would soon die. I said you were a mere shadow of what a queen once was, a garish target to be aimed at again and again, an empty symbol of dignity without any substance, a mockery of a queen only there to fill in a role. And I was right, because where’s your husband now? Your brothers? Your two sons? Your source of joy? Who kneels at your feet now and says, “God save the Queen?” What noblemen are bowing and scraping to flatter you now? And where is your throng of followers? Once you’ve laid out all of these losses, it’s clear what’s left. In place of a happy wife, there’s a miserable widow. Instead of a joyful mother, here’s a woman who cries at the mention of her children. For one who bestows favors on others, here’s one who has to beg for favors. Instead of a queen, we have a poor woman with a crown of worries. She who mocked me now is mocked by me. She who once ordered everyone about is now obeyed by no one. Your fortune has fallen. Now you have only the memory of what you were, which tortures you when you consider what you’ve become.
You once stole my position; now you get to have the grief that goes with it. Now like an ox, you carry half my heavy burden of grief—here, I’ll give you the rest. Farewell, York’s wife. Goodbye, queen of tragic misfortune. Your English sorrows will make me smile in France.