Friday, October 23, 2009

Question from Diane - Poetry of Mary Queen of Scots

I've got a question about the poetry of Mary Queen of Scots. In the 1971 movie, "Mary Queen of Scots," Vanessa Redgrave sings a song during the opening credits as Mary and Francois are running from the castle to the river. The song is called "Vivre et Mourir" and the lyrics are from a poem by Mary herself. Does anyone know what specific poem this is and where I can find it? The English title would be "To live and to die."


Lauren said...

Hi Diane,
The only collection of poems by Mary herself that I am aware of is "Bittersweet Within My Heart: The Love Poems of Mary, Queen of Scots", which was edited by Robin Bell. It was published in 1992, and I think the collection is now out of print. However, you can still find it on and other bookseller sites for a reasonable price.
Hope this helps.

Diane said...

Thanks Lauren. I'll try to find that book. : )

Roland H. said...

The lyrics sung by Vanessa Redgrave are from a sonnet supposedly composed by Mary Stuart to the Earl of Bothwell, and was found in the so-called 'Casket Letters'.

You can find it in the book 'Letters and Poems by Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots', translated by Clifford Bax (Philosophical Library, New York, 1947).

The whole sonnet (on pg. 69, with an English translation is on pg. 58) contains 14 lines. Vanessa Redgrave sang the final 6 lines in the film soundtrack.

By the way, sheet music for 'Vivre et Mourir' (with Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson on the cover) exists. However, the lyrics are in English, and are not a translation of the original French as in the Bax book. You can sometimes find it on (where I found my copy).

Incidentally, there is also sheet music for 'Farewell My Pleasure Past' (sung by Genevieve Bujold?) used in the opening credits of 'Anne of the Thousand Days'.

Roland H.

Diane said...

Thanks Roland H.!!!

Anonymous said...

I came across this page looking for details of the song sun by Vanessa Redgrave in Mary Queen of Scots. Also there was a song Farewell my Pleasures Past (sung by Genevieve Bujold) - I thought it was sung by Gary Bond in the film, am I wrong? Probably does not really matter after all this time!