Anne Vavasour's Echo

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Anne Vavasour's Echo (c. 1581) 
by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
The poem has been attributed to both Edward de Vere and to his mistress Anne Vavasour, in whose voice the middle part of the poem is written. The title "Ann Vavasour's Echo" is given in the Rawlinson MS. Published by Grosart in The Fuller Worthies' Library (1872) as "Visions of a Fair Maid, with Echo-Verses".

Steven May considers that the poem may be Oxford's, but takes the view that its tone towards both Oxford and Vavasour suggest that it was "quite inappropriate" for either of them and that "it seems more likely that neither of them wrote the piece".[1]

Sitting alone upon my thought in melancholy mood,
In sight of sea, and at my back an ancient hoary wood,
I saw a fair young lady come, her secret fears to wail,
Clad all in colour of a nun, and covered with a veil;
Yet (for the day was calm and clear) I might discern her face,
As one might see a damask rose hid under crystal glass.

Three times, with her soft hand, full hard on her left side she knocks,
And sigh'd so sore as might have mov'd some pity in the rocks;
From sighs and shedding amber tears into sweet song she brake,
When thus the echo answered her to every word she spake:

"Oh heavens! who was the first that bred in me this fever?
Who was the first that gave the wound whose fear I wear for ever?
What tyrant, Cupid, to my harm usurps thy golden quiver?
What sight first caught this heart and can from bondage it deliver?

Yet who doth most adore this sight, oh hollow caves tell true?
What nymph deserves his liking best, yet doth in sorrow rue?
What makes him not reward good will with some reward or ruth?
What makes him show besides his birth, such pride and such untruth?

May I his favour match with love, if he my love will try?
May I requite his birth with faith ? Then faithful will I die?

And I, that knew this lady well,
Said, Lord how great a miracle,
To her how Echo told the truth,
As true as Phoebus' oracle.


  1. Steven W. May, "The poems of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford and Robert Devereaux, second Earl of Essex" in Studies in Philology, 77 (Winter 1980), Chapel Hill, p.80.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.