Gail Griffin | Virginals: a Book of Elizabethan Interiors

VirginalsPoems by Gail Griffin, selected by Ron Mohring as Number 2 in Volume 5 of our Editor’s Series.

These poems explore the fascinating life of Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.” The title also refers to a small keyboard instrument “regarded as the province of young women.”

Cover design by John Townsend.

Publication:  July 19, 2021 [100 copies]
33 pages
ISBN 978-1-949333-80-8
$ 9.00

Gail Griffin is the author of four books of nonfiction, including Grief’s Country: A Memoir in Pieces. Her essays, flash nonfiction, and poems have widely published, but Virginals is her first collection of poetry. Her early fascination with Elizabeth Tudor was catalyzed by Glenda Jackson and titillated by Cate Blanchett. A Detroit native, Gail lives and writes in southwestern Michigan.


“I will have here but one mistress, and no master!”
–Elizabeth to Robert Dudley

Ah, but a love with no master?
Unknown in the annals of romance.

A mistress, to be sure, is a requirement,
else what would a lover do,

having no eyes or breast, 
cheek or foot to praise?

But mark, with each superlative
dropped upon nostril or knuckle,

he counts the hours ‘til she be his.
And when she is his—why then,

she is his. And you, sir, whom I love
above all the world: when you take

my hand and touch your lips
to every fingertip in turn

and raise your chestnut eyes, bright 
with yearning and devotion,

think you I fail to see the master
prisoned in your face, straining

for his liberty?