Sir Walter Raleigh
Biography of Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England.
Raleigh was born to a Protestant family in Devon, the son of Walter Raleigh and Catherine Champernowne. Little is known for certain of his early life, though he spent some time in Ireland, in Killua Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath, taking part in the suppression of rebellions and participating in a massacre at Smerwick. Later he became a landlord of properties confiscated from the Irish rebels. He rose rapidly in Queen Elizabeth I's favour, being knighted in 1585. He was involved in the early English colonisation of Virginia under a royal patent. In 1591 he secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, without the Queen's permission for which he and his wife were sent to the Tower of London. After his release, they retired to his estate at Sherborne, Dorset.
In 1594 Raleigh heard of a "City of Gold" in South America and sailed to find it, publishing an exaggerated account of his experiences in a book that contributed to the legend of "El Dorado". After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 Raleigh was again imprisoned in the Tower, this time for allegedly being involved in the Main Plot against King James I, who was not favourably disposed toward him. In 1616 he was released in order to conduct a second expedition in search of El Dorado. This was unsuccessful and men under his command ransacked a Spanish outpost. He returned to England and, to appease the Spanish, was arrested and executed in 1618.
Raleigh's poetry is written in the relatively straightforward, unornamented mode known as the plain style. C. S. Lewis considered Raleigh one of the era's "silver poets", a group of writers who resisted the Italian Renaissance influence of dense classical reference and elaborate poetic devices.
In poems such as "What is Our Life" and "The Lie", Raleigh expresses a contemptus mundi (contempt of the world) attitude more characteristic of the Middle Ages than of the dawning era of humanistic optimism. But, his lesser-known long poem "The Ocean to Cynthia" combines this vein with the more elaborate conceits associated with his contemporaries Edmund Spenser and John Donne, expressing a melancholy sense of history.
A minor poem of Raleigh's captures the atmosphere of the court at the time of Queen Elizabeth I. His response to Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" was "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd". "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" was written in 1592, while Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to The Shepherd" was written four years later. Both were written in the style of traditional pastoral poetry. They follow the same structure of six four-line stanzas employing a rhyme scheme of AABB.
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Sir Walter Raleigh Poems
IF all the world and love were young, And truth in every shepherd's tongue, These pretty pleasures might me move To live with thee and be thy Love.
EVEN such is Time, that takes in trust Our youth, our joys, our all we have, And pays us but with earth and dust; Who in the dark and silent grave,
My Last Will
When I am safely laid away, Out of work and out of play, Sheltered by the kindly ground From the world of sight and sound,
A Farewell to False Love
Farewell, false love, the oracle of lies, A mortal foe and enemy to rest, An envious boy, from whom all cares arise, A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed,
Now What Is Love
Now what is Love, I pray thee, tell? It is that fountain and that well Where pleasure and repentance dwell; It is, perhaps, the sauncing bell
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
Song of Myself
I was a Poet! But I did not know it, Neither did my Mother, Nor my Sister nor my Brother.
What is our life? A play of passion, Our mirth the music of division, Our mother's wombs the tiring-houses be, Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Farewell to the Court
Like truthless dreams, so are my joys expir'd, And past return are all my dandled days; My love misled, and fancy quite retir'd-- Of all which pass'd the sorrow only stays.
Go, soul, the body's guest, Upon a thankless errand; Fear not to touch the best; The truth shall be thy warrant:
Nature that Washed Her Hands in Milk
Nature, that washed her hands in milk, And had forgot to dry them, Instead of earth took snow and silk, At love's request to try them,
GIVE me my scallop-shell of quiet, My staff of faith to walk upon, My scrip of joy, immortal diet, My bottle of salvation,
The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd
If all the world and love were young, And truth in every Shepherd’s tongue, These pretty pleasures might me move,
To a Lady with an Unruly and Ill-mannere...
Your dog is not a dog of grace; He does not wag the tail or beg; He bit Miss Dickson in the face; He bit a Bailie in the leg.
Go, soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.
Say to the court, it glows
And shines like rotten wood;