Queen, Jewel, Mistress

“Ruth Stacey’s Queen, Jewel, Mistress is a beautiful and dreamlike collection. But this astonishing debut is also a brilliant tour of British history, and a series of virtuoso inventions in which our many queens – rulers and their spouses – are brought to life, each in the music and language of her time. Funny and moving, accomplished and surprising, part dressing-up box and part cabinet of curiosities, this is a collection of lyric verse of the highest quality.”
– Fiona Sampson

“Ruth Stacey’s poems are exceptional. They evoke voices long silenced, and the very essence of these past lives and the ages in which they were lived. There is so much food for thought here – every line is a joy!”
– Alison Weir


The poems loosely use the poetry from the relevant period to give the experience of moving through different poetic styles as well as the changing role of a queen/consort. Some poems are instantly recognisable as they mimic a familiar form; others are free verse or epistle. The aim was always to give each queen/consort a voice and capture the feeling of the historical period. 

The book can be ordered from the Eyewear website or from Amazon.

Alternatively, please message me directly for a signed copy.

“As expressed by “Elizabeth II”, in the final poem of this collection, “each Queen is tissue paper thin”. As befits this state, Stacey listens carefully for the suppressed, cocooned, and otherwise elided voices of a shadowy lineage. Catching their fragile utterances from the often volatile winds of history, she shapes them tenderly into poems that are, by turn, imagistic and reflective. Of these, the former show a mobile sensibility reminiscent of H.D. This force is most evident in the earlier poems, where the harsh iconography of Kingship is often returned to the natural world from which it is derived. Indeed, the congregated voice of Stacey’s poetry is at its most powerful and original when, as in “Anne Boleyn”, it opens the way for constrained queens to shape-shift their way from culture back to nature. This is a rich and provocative collection, which combines historical depth with formal diversity.”– David Arnold

“History holds such a wealth of material for any writer – but especially so for poets. And yet, so few poets find themselves looking to such inspiration. Of all the poets I know, of all the (contemporary) poets I’ve read, I’ve never quite found someone who interprets history through poetry like Ruth Stacey. I’m not talking of using poetry to illustrate history. I’m not talking of political ballads or of waxing poetics. I’m talking of recreating history, provoking ghosts, resurrecting the dead. I have many friends who are history interpreters, working or volunteering at historical sites. They dress in costumes, don weaponry, and wield the mannerisms and speech of the people who were there. Ruth Stacey interprets history in just this way. I was once told, of a poem I wrote of an American Civil War widow, “If they taught history like that in school, I might have paid attention!” Pay attention, dear readers. You will love Stacey’s Queens.”

Eve Brackenbury,  Poet and owner of Inklings’ Books & Coffee Shoppe.

elizabeth woodville

(photo credit: Queens’ College, University of Cambridge)

Elizabeth Wydeville

I remember a beautiful white woman kneeling beneath a tree,
A handsome, eager man helping her to rise,
Love thick like sticky sap betwixt the two:
Their eyes glistening, beholding themselves in a mirror.

A cultured, elegant Queen anointed in holy oils and pageantry,
A merry King removing her crown and haughty expressions.
People cheering the celebrations of each new child,
Wine and ale soaking the murmurs of the enemy.

A frightened Queen with her children fleeing to Sanctuary,
A bloated, frivolous King dead: her heart in his stone fingers.
The wolves circling the Abbey- Gloucester betraying her,
Comforting frightened eyes, voices lost in cloisters.

A naïve Queen listening to the Archbishop swear on his soul,
The new King only needed his brother’s cheerful fellowship.
In the star chamber the Queen believing the oath of surety,
Noticed how her youngest son’s hair smelt of rosemary.

A mother, not a Queen, kissing her child all over his beloved face:
‘Tell the King, your brother how I love thee both, how you look
Exactly like your Father and I will kiss you now for God knoweth
When we shall kiss again, farewell, farewell,’ she swooned.

A pale Queen waiting, praying that her trust would not be in vain.
A dreaming King and his small brother snuffed out like lamps.
The news was wept into her ear, her soul stiffened like sealing wax.
What grief— a mother can only resurrect life by remembering it again:

I remember a beautiful white woman kneeling beneath a tree,
A handsome, eager man helping her to rise,
Love thick like sticky sap betwixt the two:
Their eyes glistening, beholding themselves in a mirror.



Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
Love me, English people with your hearts,
Show sweetly tender loyalty.
Love me when our dearest King departs,
Though there be novel royalty.

Spare a thought for gentle Adelaide,
When the little Queen’s bless’d and crown’d,
Recall as you cheer the gold parade,
To oblivion I am bound.

A shadow Queen without King or throne,
Is into the empty ether hurled;
I am a Queen in my skin and bone,
So now seem of no use in this world.


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