CATHERINE'S SONG

Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon was Henry VIII's first wife. He dumped her for Anne Boleyn in 1525 after 16 years of marriage and their contentious divorce famously led to the establishment of the Church of England. Henry acknowledged her only as the Dowager Princess of Wales after the divorce, but Catherine considered herself the rightful Queen of England until her death in 1536.

Catherine was quite an agressive queen. In 1513, when the Scots invaded, Catherine rode north in full armour to address the troops, and in 1517 she intervened to save the lives of the men condemned to execution for the Evil May Day rebellion.

Her children (the ones not stillborn) were Henry, Duke of Cornwall, who lived only 52 days, and Mary, later to become Queen Mary I.

Katherine of Aragon Portrayals

So in RAMBLING MAN, by Laura Marling, the singer states that

Beaten, battered, and cold
my children will live just to grow old


because after the divorce, Catherine realized that her children would never rise to the throne.

O naive little me
asking what things you have seen


reflects her reliance on others for information. This information often turned out to be undependable and sometimes deceptive. This leads to:

Creatures veiled by night
following things that aren't right


probably referring to the efforts at rebellion against Henry. Catherine steadfastly refused to be drawn into these efforts. Hence the line

It's a pale and cold affair
and i'll be damned if I'll be found there.

But how does the song's title, RAMBLING MAN, fit into this theory? The verb "to ramble" comes from the Old English ramien meaning "to wander about". Today, the verb and its adjectival form, mean (quite similarly) to habitually wander or roam, or to be nomadic. The sexual connotation of the word comes from a 17th century pun on the Middle Dutch word rammelin, meaning to copulate. Hence, in the time of Catherine, there was no such connotation.

The "rambling man" is Christ. Catherine gave herself to religion when she lost her crown.

RAMBLING MAN

LAURA MARLING

Oh naive little me
asking what things you have seen
and you're vulnerable in your head
you'll scream and you'll wail untill you're dead

Creatures veiled by night
following things that aren't right
and they're tired and they need to be led
but you'll scream and wail till you're dead

But give me to a rambling man
let it always be known that i was who i am

Beaten, battered, and cold
my children will live just to grow old
but if i sit here and weep
i'll be blown over by the slightest of breeze

And the weak need to be led
and the tender are carried to their bed
and its a pale and cold affair
i'll be damned if i'll be found there

But give me to a rambling man
let it always be known that i was who i am

It's funny how the first chords you come to
are the minor notes that come to serenade you
and it's hard to accept yourself as someone
you don't desire
as someone you don't want to be

Oh give me to a rambling man
let it always be known that i was who i am
oh give me to a rambling man
let it always be known that i was who i am