Gary Waller
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Ralegh’s ‘As You Came from the Holy Land’ and the rival virgin queens of late sixteenth-century England
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The remarkable poem traditionally attributed to Sir Walter Ralegh, 'As You Came from the Holy Land', deserves special attention, both for its remarkable poetical resonance and as an indication of broader cultural shifts in late Elizabethan England. There is, as with so many poems ascribed to Ralegh, some question concerning the poem's authorship. Ralegh's Walsingham poem is all the more interesting since it was written in the heart of Elizabeth's Protestant court at a time when Catholics were menacing to both England's state religion and its nationhood. The Walsingham poem records a moment of equivalent disillusion with the mortal, virgin Queen. There is certainly no alternative virgin Queen, no replacement of one heavenly Virgin Queen by another. Instead, in the poem's devotional world, it is the grieving married lady of Penshurst who replaces the Lady of Walsingham.

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