My sweet lady Jane
When I see you again
Your servant am I
And will humbly remain
Just heed this plea, my love
On bended knees my love
I pledge myself to lady Jane
Let’s suppose that Lady Jane refers to Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII, one of the few wives who were not executed, who died at the birth of their only son , who reigned as King Edward VI . But we should not forget it might also be a reference to Jane Ormsby-Gore, a British woman Mick Jagger was involved with, or to Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for nine days in 1553, imprisoned and beheaded for treason by Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary), or to the nickname by which Lady Chatterley’s Lover called her genitalia.
Jane Seymour had met the king because she had beeev a maid-of-honour to Queen Catherine, and then she had gone to serve Queen Anne. She was gentle, peaceful, compassionate, and showed deep sympathy for Queen Catherine’s daughter, Lady Mary. She was not beautiful, not very tall, and very pale, and the first report of Henry VIII’s interest in her (February 1536) was when she was noted to be pale and blonde, the opposite of Anne Boleyn’s dark hair and olive skin. She was a simple and chaste woman, with a large family, which made her a suitable candidate to give birth to several children. In 1537 she gave birth to a son who became Edward VI of England: the labour was difficult, and lasted two days and three nights, probably because the baby was not well positioned. She died twelve days later of infection resulting from the birth.
Here her lover, Henry VIII, seems to be assuring her that once Anne Boleyn is dead, he will marry her
My dear Lady Anne
I’ve done what I can
I must take my leave
For promised I am
This play is run my love
Your time has come my love
I’ve pledged my troth to Lady Jane
In this verse the narrator is talking to Anne. In 1525, Henry VIII fell in love with Anne Boleyn and began his pursuit of her. At first, she resisted the King’s attempts to seduce her and refused to become his mistress, as her sister, Mary Boleyn, had already done.
When they finally got married, she failed to produce a male heir; and when he started to court Jane Seymour in March 1536, he orchestrated Anne’s arrest for high treason. She was tried, found guilty, and beheaded on 19 May. The next day Henry and Jane became engaged and only ten days later they were married.
When Jane died, Henry wore black for three months and did not remarry for three years. He put on weight, became very fat and developed diabetes and gout. Historians have speculated she was his favourite wife because she gave birth to a male heir. When he died in 1547, Henry was buried beside her, on his request, in the grave he had made for her.
Here Henry is telling Anne her time is up, she has been unable to give him a son and now he wants to marry his true love, Jane.
Oh my sweet Marie
I wait at your ease
The sands have run out
For your lady and me
Wedlock is nigh my love
Her station’s right my love
Life is secure with Lady Jane
In the last verse the man is hinting at the end of the previous relationship and assuring that life is secure with Lady Jane. Marie could be one of Anne’s ladies in waiting, or a
reference to Henry’s daughter, Mary, while her lady may be her mother, Catherine of Aragon. “Life is secure with Lady Jane” may refer to the fact that Jane was a good stepmother to Mary.
Alternatively, if Lady Jane refers to Jane Grey, “Mary” may be another queen, Marie Antoinette, beheaded like Lady Anne and Lady Jane