Sir Walter Raleigh

(1552 - 1618 / Devon / England)

Even Such Is Time


Even such is time, which takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust,
Who in the dark and silent grave
When we have wandered all our ways
Shuts up the story of our days,
And from which earth, and grave, and dust
The Lord will raise me up, I trust.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Edited: Monday, March 28, 2011

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  • Terence George Craddock (9/21/2010 12:08:00 PM)

    ‘Even Such Is Time’ by Sir Walter Raleigh was supposedly written the night before his execution, and Raleigh was indeed executed, beheaded outside Westminster Hall. Perhaps the poem was never originally titled, which might explain why the poem has at least three other titles, ‘Epitaph’, 'The Conclusion' and ‘Sir Walter Raleigh (The night before his death) ’.
    The most intriguing question, due to the alleged circumstances of the poems composition, must be the meaning of the capitalization of the first word “EVEN” at the beginning of the octave. Does it hint at a desire by Raleigh to get even with his enemies, who first got him in trouble with James I? Did Raleigh weight his life, as scholar, Queen's favourite at court, receiving a knighthood, attaining huge estates in Ireland, involvement in expeditions to the Americas; against being convicted of treason and spending thirteen years imprisoned in the Tower of London. Did he decide upon balanced reflection he had eventually broken even?
    His youth was full of joy, he wander’d far in expeditions, all was taken from him, when most of his final years were spent shut up in prison. The poem is a brief summary of Raleigh’s life, concluding with his last great hope, ‘My God shall raise me up, I trust.’
    The comment Raleigh may not officially be a poet is interesting. Sir Walter Raleigh is listed among the classical poets. His poem ‘The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd’ surely qualifies Raleigh as a poet, and in ‘Song of Myself’ Raleigh writes he was a poet. How many poems must one pen to be a poet or a great poet, I also have contemplated in ‘Proclamation’ and ‘True Poet’. The answer remains individual opinion. (Report) Reply

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