Doubt Of Future Foes By Elizabeth
"The Doubt of Future Foes" by Queen Elizabeth I The doubt of future
foes exiles my present joy, And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten
mine annoy. For falsehood now doth flow, and subject faith doth ebb, Which would
not be, if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web. But clouds of toys untried do
cloak aspiring minds, Which turn to rain of late repent, by course of changed
winds. The top of hope supposed, the root of ruth will be, And fruitless all
their graffed guiles, as shortly ye shall see. The dazzled eyes with pride,
which great ambition blinds, Shall be unsealed by worthy wights whose foresight
falsehood finds. The daughter of debate, that eke discord doth sow Shall reap no
gain where former rule hath taught still peace to grow. No foreign banished
wight shall anchor in this port, Our realm it brooks no stranger’s force, let
them elsewhere resort. Our rusty sword with rest, shall first his edge employ To
poll their tops that seek such change and gape for joy. Written in 1568 by one
of England’s most outstanding rulers, "The Doubt of Future Foes"
captures a time of distress for Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth Jenkins, one of the
great Queen’s biographers, stated that "Elizabeth was not poetical, but
she shared that extraordinary gift of expression that was general among the

English of the time, and once or twice she wrote some remarkable verse" (Jenkens,

Elizabeth the Great, 1958). In this particular "remarkable verse,"

Elizabeth composed sixteen lines describing the troubled state of England and
prophesied the fate of her enemies. Elizabeth uses alliteration in several
lines, such as "wisdom weaved the web" and "foresight falsehood
finds," which reflects her well-educated and cultured background. However,
the poem appears to be mainly a product of Elizabeth’s struggles with
adversaries and a threat to those who had the "aspiring minds" to
attempt to remove her from the throne. The poem is written in octosyllabics:
rhyming couplets with twelve syllables in the first line and fourteen syllables
in the second line. This meter drums out a steady, forceful rhythm that further
drills in the highly moralistic message of "loyalty... or else." The
first two lines state that Elizabeth’s fear ("doubt") about her
enemies prevents her from being happy, and that if she were smart, she would
ignore the traps those enemies had set in place to harm her with. Her cousin,

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, had been giving her cousin grief about

Elizabeth’s unfulfilled promise when Mary was imprisoned to help her regain
her throne (and succeeded in labeling Elizabeth as a hypocrite), but Mary
refused to acknowledge the fact that Elizabeth had saved her life countless
times. Her cousin also had her eyes on the British crown and appealed to

Elizabeth’s sympathy to begin to win it. However, advised by Sir William Cecil
that her cousin had "an appetite to the Crown," she handled Mary’s
demands, such as for Elizabeth’s own royal garments, with caution and
limitation. At this point in history, Elizabeth was also angered that the
northern Catholics had spurned her exceptionally tolerant religious policy. The

Catholics had always wanted Elizabeth ousted from the throne because she had
committed the travesty of being Protestant, and they looked at anything
controversial that she did as a way to get her out. Line three describes
treachery and devotion as a wave that recedes and swells; at the present time,
allegiance is short of hand and treason is a constant threat. However, Elizabeth
states in line four that if people had intelligence and common sense, they would
be loyal to her. She feels this way not only because of her religious beliefs,
but also because of the simple fact that she is Queen. Her subjects may be
rebellious now, when they feel they may have a chance at overthrowing her, but
ultimately she is still in power and has a golden finger to direct their fate.

She alludes to the impending tools and tricks that her adversaries will use
against her as clouds that will fall as rain when her enemies change their minds
and beg pardon. She also portrays their false fronts as a shoot grafted into the
growing plant of the kingdom of England, with hope as the leaves
("top") and sorrow ("ruth") as the roots, but which will
yield no profits ("fruit") as long as they are disloyal. She then
states that their vain eyes, full of impatient anticipation, will be opened by a
noble person (a "worthy wight") who foresees their treachery.

Elizabeth refers to her cousin Mary as "the