Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was an author of original verse, but I am intrigued by her abilities as a translator of Greek, Latin, French, and Italian. My post, D is for Marguerite de Navarre, was partly chosen so that I could pair her with Elizabeth I for E. Marguerite’s devotional poem, “Le miroir de l’ame pecheresse” was first published in 1531 in Alençon. Princess Elizabeth Tudor, 11 years old, translated Marguerite’s work and gave her translation, “The Glasse of the Synnefull Soule,” to her stepmother, Catherine Parr, as a New Year’s gift in 1545. At the same time Elizabeth was translating Marguerite’s devotional poem, she translated the 13th Psalm into English tetrameters. Elizabeth’s interest in translation was not only a youthful pursuit. She was 65 years old when she translated Horace’s Ars Poetica.
Her small corpus of original poetry has a personal and political tone, where Elizabeth often shows her determination to overcome fortune rather than complain about it. Not surprisingly, her letters and speeches have been preserved in greater numbers, given her political position.
Shell, Marc. Elizabeth’s glass: with “The Glass of the SInful Soul” (1544) by Elizabeth I, and “Epistle dedicatory” and “Conclusion” (1548) by John Bale. University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603. Queen Elizabeth I: Selected Works. Edited by Steven W. May. Washington Square Press, 2004.
Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603. Elizabeth I: Collected Works. Edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose. University of Chicago Press, 2000.