(1554) The dramatist, musician, and poet John Heywood (ca. 1497-ca. 1580) was on the payroll of the Tudor royal family for a number of decades. He was particularly favored by Mary I (queen of England), and during her reign of 1553-58, the anti-Protestant Heywood enjoyed considerable patronage and prestige.
Published as a stand-alone text in 1554, "A Ballad on the Marriage of philip and Mary" is a brief and piquant expression of Heywood's loyalty to the Catho
"BALLAD WHICH ASKEW MADE AND SANG WHEN IN NEWGATE, A" 71
lic, Marian regime. The format of the poem seems simple: It contains 12 seven-line stanzas in ababbcc rhyme; the lines are almost all in regular tetrameter. The poem is more complex than it appears initially. It fits into several differing genres and takes advantage of strong aesthetic effects. The poem is an allegory depicting the controversial marriage between Mary and the Catholic king of Spain, Philip II. It is a beast fable because it describes the improbable union of a proud eagle and a disciplined lion—the eagle signifying Spain, the lion England. The poem can also be called an epithala-mium—a political and romantic ode—because it celebrates a contemporary marriage in a eulogistic manner. More simply, it can be called a ballad because Hey-wood's original text identifies it as such; it conveys a basic narrative and could conceivably be sung.
The poem begins with a description of the Spanish "birde" being drawn to Mary, the living embodiment of the "red and whight" Tudor rose. The object of the eagle's affection is Mary, who embodies the leonine boldness of England. Mary is not a wild lion but a "lamblike lion feminyne." Although strong and secure in her association with English puissance, the queen is meek and mild, feminine. There is a great match, because in Philip we have a "kinglie king" and in Mary we have a "queenelie queene": "lyke to lyke here matched is," announces the celebratory verse. Heywood uses anaphora to stress the royal couple's compatibility: Several lines at the start of stanza 6 are exclamations of joy that begin with the claim that the couple is "so meete [fit] a matche." Five successive one-line comments in stanza 8 describe the marital union's virtues; each line begins with the word "Suche." Sparing use of alliteration heightens the intensity of satisfaction that English subjects should feel—"what matche may match more mete then this" (1. 35).
ultimately, Heywood's "Ballad on the Marriage" works as pro-state, pro-status quo propaganda, providing an artistic instance of pro-Catholicism, its own complex elaborateness reflecting the complicated political situation.
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