Sir Walter Raleigh, also spelled Ralegh, was an English landed gentleman, writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy and explorer. He was cousin to Sir Richard Grenville and younger half-brother of Sir Humphrey Gilbert. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England.
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Famous Sir Walter Raleigh Poems
As You Came From The Holy Land
As you came from the holy land
Met you not with my true love
By the way as you came?
‘How shall I know your true love,
That have met many one,
I went to the holy land,
That have come, that have gone?’
She is neither white, nor brown,
But as the heavens fair;
There is none hath a form so divine
In the earth, or the air.
‘Such a one did I meet, good sir,
Such an angelic face,
Who like a queen, like a nymph, did appear
By her gait, by her grace.’
She hath left me here all alone,
All alone, as unknown,
Who sometimes did me lead with herself,
And me loved as her own.
‘What’s the cause that she leaves you alone,
And a new way doth take,
Who loved you once as her own,
And her joy did you make?’
I have lov’d her all my youth;
But now old, as you see,
Love likes not the falling fruit
From the withered tree.
Know that Love is a careless child,
And forgets promise past;
He is blind, he is deaf when he list,
And in faith never fast.
His desire is a dureless content,
And a trustless joy:
He is won with a world of despair,
And is lost with a toy.
Of womenkind such indeed is the love,
Or the word love abus’d,
Under which many childish desires
And conceits are excus’d.
But true love is a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.
The Ocean To Cynthia
But stay, my thoughts, make end, give fortune way ;
Harsh is the voice of woe and sorrow’s sound ;
Complaints cure not, and tears do but allay
Griefs for a time, which after more abound.
To seek for moisture in the Arabian sand
Is but a loss of labor and of rest ;
The links which time did break of hearty bands
Words cannot knit, or wailings make anew.
Seek not the sun in clouds when it is set.
On highest mountains, where those cedars grew,
Against whose banks the troubled ocean beat,
And were the marks to find thy hopëd port,
Into a soil far off themselves remove ;
On Sestos’ shore, Leander’s late resort,
Hero hath left no lamp to guide her love.
Thou lookest for light in vain, and storms arise;
She sleeps thy death that erst thy danger sighed;
Strive then no more, bow down thy weary eyes,
Eyes which to all these woes thy heart have guided.
She is gone, she is lost, she is found, she is ever fair;
Sorrow draws weakly where love draws not too;
Woe’s cries sound nothing, but only in love’s ear.
Do then by dying what life cannot do.
Unfold thy flocks and leave them to the fields,
To feed on hills or dales, where likes them best,
Of what the summer or the springtime yields,
For love and time hath given thee leave to rest.
Thy heart which was their fold, now in decay
By often storms and winter’s many blasts,
All torn and rent becomes misfortune’s prey;
False hope, my shepherd’s staff, now age hath brast.
My pipe, which love’s own hand gave my desire
To sing her praises and my woe upon,
Despair hath often threatened to the fire,
As vain to keep now all the rest are gone.
Thus home I draw, as death’s long night draws on;
Yet every foot, old thoughts turn back mine eyes;
Constraint me guides, as old age draws a stone
Against the hill, which over-weighty lies
For feeble arms or wasted strength to move:
My steps are backward, gazing on my loss,
My mind’s affection and my soul’s sole love,
Not mixed with fancy’s chaff or fortune’s dross.
To God I leave it, who first gave it me,
And I her gave, and she returned again,
As it was hers; so let His mercies be
Of my last comforts the essential mean.
But be it so or not, the effects are past;
Her love hath end; my woe must ever last.
The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage
Give me my scallop shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage,
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.
Blood must be my body’s balmer,
No other balm will there be given,
Whilst my soul, like a white palmer,
Travels to the land of heaven;
Over the silver mountains,
Where spring the nectar fountains;
And there I’ll kiss
The bowl of bliss,
And drink my eternal fill
On every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before,
But after it will ne’er thirst more;
And by the happy blissful way
More peaceful pilgrims I shall see,
That have shook off their gowns of clay,
And go apparelled fresh like me.
I’ll bring them first
To slake their thirst,
And then to taste those nectar suckets,
At the clear wells
Where sweetness dwells,
Drawn up by saints in crystal buckets.
And when our bottles and all we
Are fill’d with immortality,
Then the holy paths we’ll travel,
Strew’d with rubies thick as gravel,
Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors,
High walls of coral, and pearl bowers.
From thence to heaven’s bribeless hall
Where no corrupted voices brawl,
No conscience molten into gold,
Nor forg’d accusers bought and sold,
No cause deferr’d, nor vain-spent journey,
For there Christ is the king’s attorney,
Who pleads for all without degrees,
And he hath angels, but no fees.
When the grand twelve million jury
Of our sins and sinful fury,
‘Gainst our souls black verdicts give,
Christ pleads his death, and then we live.
Be thou my speaker, taintless pleader,
Unblotted lawyer, true proceeder,
Thou movest salvation even for alms,
Not with a bribed lawyer’s palms.
And this is my eternal plea
To him that made heaven, earth, and sea,
Seeing my flesh must die so soon,
And want a head to dine next noon,
Just at the stroke when my veins start and spread,
Set on my soul an everlasting head.
Then am I ready, like a palmer fit,
To tread those blest paths which before I writ.
The Crosse Of Christ
Rise, O my soul, with thy desires to heaven,
And with divinest contemplation use
Thy time, where time’s eternity is given ;
And let vain thoughts no more thy thoughts abuse,
But down in midnight darkness let them lie ;
So live thy better, let thy worst thoughts die.
And thou, my soul, inspired with holy flame,
View and review, with most regardful eie,
That holy crosse whence thy salvation came,
On which thy Saviour and thy sin did die;
For in that sacred object is much pleasure,
And in that Saviour is my life, my treasure.
To thee, O Jesu ! I direct mine eies,
To thee my hands, to thee my humble knees;
To thee my heart shall offer sacrifice,
To thee my thoughts, who my thoughts only sees ;
To thee myself—myself and all, I give;
To thee I die, to thee I only live.
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.
But Time drives flocks from field to fold;
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward Winter reckoning yields:
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither–soon forgotten,
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy-buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,–
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy Love.
But could youth last, and love still breed,
Had joys no date, nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might 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,
When we have wander’d all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days;
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.
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,
One or two of those I leave
Will remember me and grieve,
Thinking how I made them gay
By the things I used to say;
— But the crown of their distress
Will be my untidiness.
What a nuisance then will be
All that shall remain of me!
Shelves of books I never read,
Piles of bills, undocketed,
Shaving-brushes, razors, strops,
Bottles that have lost their tops,
Boxes full of odds and ends,
Letters from departed friends,
Faded ties and broken braces
Tucked away in secret places,
Baggy trousers, ragged coats,
Stacks of ancient lecture-notes,
And that ghostliest of shows,
Boots and shoes in horrid rows.
Though they are of cheerful mind,
My lovers, whom I leave behind,
When they find these in my stead,
Will be sorry I am dead.
They will grieve; but you, my dear,
Who have never tasted fear,
Brave companion of my youth,
Free as air and true as truth,
Do not let these weary things
Rob you of your junketings.
Burn the papers; sell the books;
Clear out all the pestered nooks;
Make a mighty funeral pyre
For the corpse of old desire,
Till there shall remain of it
Naught but ashes in a pit:
And when you have done away
All that is of yesterday,
If you feel a thrill of pain,
Master it, and start again.
This, at least, you have never done
Since you first beheld the sun:
If you came upon your own
Blind to light and deaf to tone,
Basking in the great release
Of unconsciousness and peace,
You would never, while you live,
Shatter what you cannot give;
— Faithful to the watch you keep,
You would never break their sleep.
Clouds will sail and winds will blow
As they did an age ago
O’er us who lived in little towns
Underneath the Berkshire downs.
When at heart you shall be sad,
Pondering the joys we had,
Listen and keep very still.
If the lowing from the hill
Or the tolling of a bell
Do not serve to break the spell,
Listen; you may be allowed
To hear my laughter from a cloud.
Take the good that life can give
For the time you have to live.
Friends of yours and friends of mine
Surely will not let you pine.
Sons and daughters will not spare
More than friendly love and care.
If the Fates are kind to you,
Some will stay to see you through;
And the time will not be long
Till the silence ends the song.
Sleep is God’s own gift; and man,
Snatching all the joys he can,
Would not dare to give his voice
To reverse his Maker’s choice.
Brief delight, eternal quiet,
How change these for endless riot
Broken by a single rest?
Well you know that sleep is best.
We that have been heart to heart
Fall asleep, and drift apart.
Will that overwhelming tide
Reunite us, or divide?
Whence we come and whither go
None can tell us, but I know
Passion’s self is often marred
By a kind of self-regard,
And the torture of the cry
“You are you, and I am I.”
While we live, the waking sense
Feeds upon our difference,
In our passion and our pride
Not united, but allied.
We are severed by the sun,
And by darkness are made one.
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.
Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is,
That sits and marks still who doth act amiss.
Our graves that hide us from the setting sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest, that’s no jest.
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.
My lost delights, now clean from sight of land,
Have left me all alone in unknown ways;
My mind to woe, my life in fortune’s hand–
Of all which pass’d the sorrow only stays.
As in a country strange, without companion,
I only wail the wrong of death’s delays,
Whose sweet spring spent, whose summer well-nigh done–
Of all which pass’d only the sorrow stays.
Whom care forewarns, ere age and winter cold,
To haste me hence to find my fortune’s fold.
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,
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
In all effects contrary unto reason.
A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers,
Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose,
A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers
As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.
A fortress foiled, which reason did defend,
A siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
A raging cloud that runs before the wind,
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
A goal of grief for which the wisest run.
A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure’s lap,
A deep mistrust of that which certain seems,
A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.
Sith then thy trains my younger years betrayed,
And for my faith ingratitude I find;
And sith repentance hath my wrongs bewrayed,
Whose course was ever contrary to kind:
False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.
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,
If she a mistress could compose
To please love’s fancy out of those.
Her eyes he would should be of light,
A violet breath, and lips of jelly;
Her hair not black, nor overbright,
And of the softest down her belly;
As for her inside he’d have it
Only of wantonness and wit.
At love’s entreaty such a one
Nature made, but with her beauty
She hath framed a heart of stone;
So as Love, by ill destiny,
Must die for her whom nature gave him
Because her darling would not save him.
But time, which nature doth despise
And rudely gives her love the lie,
Makes hope a fool, and sorrow wise,
His hands do neither wash nor dry;
But being made of steel and rust,
Turns snow and silk and milk to dust.
The light, the belly, lips, and breath,
He dims, discolors, and destroys;
With those he feeds but fills not death,
Which sometimes were the food of joys.
Yea, time doth dull each lively wit,
And dries all wantonness with it.
Oh, cruel time, which takes in trust
Our youth, or 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.
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.
A Literature Lesson. Sir Patrick Spens In The Eighteenth Century Manner
In a famed town of Caledonia’s land,
A prosperous port contiguous to the strand,
A monarch feasted in right royal state;
But care still dogs the pleasures of the Great,
And well his faithful servants could surmise
From his distracted looks and broken sighs
That though the purple bowl was circling free,
His mind was prey to black perplexity.
At last, while others thoughtless joys invoke,
Fierce from his breast the laboured utterance broke;
“Alas!” he cried, “and what to me the gain
Though I am king of all this fair domain,
Though Ceres minister her plenteous hoard,
And Bacchus with his bounty crowns my board,
If Neptune still, reluctant to obey,
Neglects my sceptre and denies my sway?
On a far mission must my vessels urge
Their course impetuous o’er the boiling surge;
But who shall guide them with a dextrous hand,
And bring them safely to that distant land?
Whose skill shall dare the perils of the deep,
And beard the Sea-god in his stormy keep?
He spake: and straightway, rising from his side
An ancient senator, of reverend pride,
Unsealed his lips, and uttered from his soul
Great store of flatulence and rigmarole;
— All fled the Court, which shades of night invest,
And Pope and Gay and Prior told the rest.
On Being Challenged To Write An Epigram In The Manner Of Herrick
To Griggs, that learned man, in many a bygone session,
His kids were his delight, and physics his profession;
Now Griggs, grown old and glum, and less intent on knowledge,
Physics himself at home, and sends his kids to college.
Our great work, the Otia Merseiana,
Edited by learned Mister Sampson,
And supported by Professor Woodward,
Is financed by numerous Bogus Meetings
Hastily convened by Kuno Meyer
To impose upon the Man of Business.
All in vain! The accomplished Man of Business
Disapproves of Otia Merseiana,
Turns his back on Doctor Kuno Meyer;
Cannot be enticed by Mister Sampson,
To be present at the Bogus Meetings,
Though attended by Professor Woodward.
Little cares the staid Professor Woodward:
He, being something of a man of business,
Knows that not a hundred Bogus Meetings
To discuss the Otia Merseiana
Can involve himself and Mister Sampson
In the debts of Doctor Kuno Meyer.
So the poor deluded Kuno Meyer,
Unenlightened by Professor Woodward —
Whom, upon the word of Mister Sampson,
He believes to be a man of business
Fit to run the Otia Merseiana —
Keeps on calling endless Bogus Meetings.
Every week has now its Bogus Meetings,
Punctually convened by Kuno Meyer
In the name of Otia Merseiana:
Every other week Professor Woodward
Takes his place, and, as a man of business,
Audits the accounts with Mister Sampson.
He and impecunious Mister Sampson
Are the mainstay of the Bogus Meetings;
But the alienated Man of Business
Cannot be allured by Kuno Meyer
To attend and meet Professor Woodward,
Glory of the Otia Merseiana.
Kuno Meyer! Great Professor Woodward!
Bogus Meetings damn, for men of business,
Mister Sampson’s Otia Merseiana.
To A Lady With An Unruly And Ill-Mannered Dog Who Bit Several Persons Of Importance
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.
What tragic choices such a dog
Presents to visitor or friend!
Outside there is the Glasgow fog;
Within, a hydrophobic end.
Yet some relief even terror brings,
For when our life is cold and gray
We waste our strength on little things,
And fret our puny souls away.
A snarl! A scruffle round the room!
A sense that Death is drawing near!
And human creatures reassume
The elemental robe of fear.
So when my colleague makes his moan
Of careless cooks, and warts, and debt,
— Enlarge his views, restore his tone,
And introduce him to your Pet!
Sir Walter Raleigh To His Son
Three things there be that prosper up apace
And flourish, whilst they grow asunder far,
But on a day, they meet all in one place,
And when they meet, they one another mar;
And they be these: the wood, the weed, the wag.
The wood is that which makes the gallow tree;
The weed is that which strings the hangman’s bag;
The wag, my pretty knave, betokeneth thee.
Mark well, dear boy, whilst these assemble not,
Green springs the tree, hemp grows, the wag is wild,
But when they meet, it makes the timber rot,
It frets the halter, and it chokes the child.
Then bless thee, and beware, and let us pray
We part not with thee at this meeting day.
To His Love When He Had Obtained Her
Now Serena be not coy,
Since we freely may enjoy
Sweet embraces, such delights,
As will shorten tedious nights.
Think that beauty will not stay
With you always, but away,
And that tyrannizing face
That now holds such perfect grace
Will both changed and ruined be;
So frail is all things as we see,
So subject unto conquering Time.
Then gather flowers in their prime,
Let them not fall and perish so;
Nature her bounties did bestow
On us that we might use them, and
‘Tis coldness not to understand
What she and youth and form persuade
With opportunity that’s made
As we could wish it. Let’s, then, meet
Often with amorous lips, and greet
Each other till our wanton kisses
In number pass the day Ulysses
Consumed in travel, and the stars
That look upon our peaceful wars
With envious luster. If this store
Will not suffice, we’ll number o’er
The same again, until we find
No number left to call to mind
And show our plenty. They are poor
That can count all they have and more.
What Is Our Life
WHAT is our life? The play of passion.
Our mirth? The music of division:
Our mothers’ wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for life’s short comedy.
The earth the stage; Heaven the spectator is,
Who sits and views whosoe’er doth act amiss.
The graves which hide us from the scorching sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus playing post we to our latest rest,
And then we die in earnest, not in jest.
Prais’D Be Diana’s Fair And Harmless Light
Prais’d be Diana’s fair and harmless light;
Prais’d be the dews wherewith she moists the ground;
Prais’d be her beams, the glory of the night;
Prais’d be her power by which all powers abound.
Prais’d be her nymphs with whom she decks the woods,
Prais’d be her knights in whom true honour lives;
Prais’d be that force by which she moves the floods;
Let that Diana shine which all these gives.
In heaven queen she is among the spheres;
In aye she mistress-like makes all things pure;
Eternity in her oft change she bears;
She beauty is; by her the fair endure.
Time wears her not: she doth his chariot guide;
Mortality below her orb is plac’d;
By her the virtue of the stars down slide;
In her is virtue’s perfect image cast.
A knowledge pure it is her worth to know:
With Circes let them dwell that think not so.
From Catullus V
The sun may set and rise,
But we, contrariwise,
Sleep, after our short light,
One everlasting night.
No Pleasure Without Pain
SWEET were the joys that both might like and last;
Strange were the state exempt from all distress;
Happy the life that no mishap should taste;
Blessed the chance might never change success.
Were such a life to lead or state to prove,
Who would not wish that such a life were love?
But oh! the soury sauce of sweet unsure,
When pleasures flit, and fly with waste of wind.
The trustless trains that hoping hearts allure,
When sweet delights do but allure the mind;
When care consumes and wastes the wretched wight,
While fancy feeds and draws of her delight.
What life were love, if love were free from pain?
But oh that pain with pleasure matched should meet!
Why did the course of nature so ordain
That sugared sour must sauce the bitter sweet?
Which sour from sweet might any means remove,
What hap, what heaven, what life, were like to love!
If Cynthia Be a Queen
If Cynthia be a queen, a princess, and supreme,
Keep these among the rest, or say it was a dream,
For those that like, expound, and those that loathe express
Meanings according as their minds are moved more or less;
For writing what thou art, or showing what thou were,
Adds to the one disdain, to the other but despair,
Thy mind of neither needs, in both seeing it exceeds.