What is "Written on the Wall of Woodstock" about, in reference to Queen Elizabeth I's life?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before she was made Queen, Elizabeth I was interred in the Tower of London for her alleged role in Wyatt's Rebellion.  The imprisonment and accusations at the hand of her sister had to left a stain on her and a scar on her sense of being.  Historical research has indicated that Elizabeth I did not have much to do with any sort of insurrection against the Status Quo.  While imprisoned, this poem is written.  Much of it speaks to the condition in which Elizbeth finds herself, but also to the idea of how much of a talented and well- rounded individual she was.  The basic premise of the poem speaks to the idea of justice not being meted out for those who did wrong, and that injustice is meted out in far too large a proportion for those who did no wrong.  The opening call to the forces of "Fortune" helps to bring out this idea that there is a flaw in the configuration that punishes the good and one in which the wicked evade punishment:

Thou caused'st the guilty to be loosed
From bands where innocents were enclosed,
And caused the guiltless to be reserved,
And freed those that death had well deserved.

The images in these lines bring out the idea of there being a fundamental flaw in such a system where justice is misapplied and the realm of just governance is absent.  The invocaton of God at the end of the poem brings to light that justice will prevail and that redemption and rectification of such a system will be at hand, almost foreshadowing her own rule starting three years later.

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Elizabeth I

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