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Best Famous Sir Walter Raleigh Poems

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by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

A Vision upon the Fairy Queen

Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay,
   Within that temple where the vestal flame
   Was wont to burn; and, passing by that way,
   To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb fair Love, and fairer Virtue kept:
   All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen;
   At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept,
   And, from thenceforth, those Graces were not seen:
For they this queen attended; in whose stead
   Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse:
   Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed,
And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce:
   Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief,
   And cursed the access of that celestial thief!


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

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, [since] And for my faith ingratitude I find; And sith repentance hath my wrongs bewrayed*, [revealed] Whose course was ever contrary to kind*: [nature] False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

The Nymphs 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 live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the 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.
The 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.


More great poems below...

by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Song of Myself

 I was a Poet! 
But I did not know it,
Neither did my Mother,
Nor my Sister nor my Brother.
The Rich were not aware of it; The Poor took no care of it.
The Reverend Mr.
Drewitt Never knew it.
The High did not suspect it; The Low could not detect it.
Aunt Sue Said it was obviously untrue.
Uncle Ned Said I was off my head: (This from a Colonial Was really a good testimonial.
) Still everybody seemed to think That genius owes a good deal to drink.
So that is how I am not a poet now, And why My inspiration has run dry.
It is no sort of use To cultivate the Muse If vulgar people Can't tell a village pump from a church steeple.
I am merely apologizing For the lack of the surprising In what I write To-night.
I am quite well-meaning, But a lot of things are always intervening Between What I mean And what it is said I had in my head.
It is all very puzzling.
Uncle Ned Says Poets need muzzling.
He might Be right.
Good-night!


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

The Silent Lover ii

 WRONG not, sweet empress of my heart, 
 The merit of true passion, 
With thinking that he feels no smart, 
 That sues for no compassion.
Silence in love bewrays more woe Than words, though ne'er so witty: A beggar that is dumb, you know, May challenge double pity.
Then wrong not, dearest to my heart, My true, though secret passion; He smarteth most that hides his smart, And sues for no compassion.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Life

 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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

His 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 quiet palmer, Travelleth towards the land of heaven; Over the silver mountains, Where spring the nectar fountains; There will I kiss The bowl of bliss; And drink mine everlasting fill Upon every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before; But, after, it will thirst no more.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

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
That tolls all into heaven or hell;
And this is Love, as I hear tell.
Yet what is Love, I prithee, say? It is a work on holiday, It is December matched with May, When lusty bloods in fresh array Hear ten months after of the play; And this is Love, as I hear say.
Yet what is Love, good shepherd, sain? It is a sunshine mixed with rain, It is a toothache or like pain, It is a game where none hath gain; The lass saith no, yet would full fain; And this is Love, as I hear sain.
Yet, shepherd, what is Love, I pray? It is a yes, it is a nay, A pretty kind of sporting fray, It is a thing will soon away.
Then, nymphs, take vantage while ye may; And this is Love, as I hear say.
Yet what is Love, good shepherd, show? A thing that creeps, it cannot go, A prize that passeth to and fro, A thing for one, a thing for moe, And he that proves shall find it so; And shepherd, this is Love, I trow.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

The Silent Lover i

 PASSIONS are liken'd best to floods and streams: 
The shallow murmur, but the deep are dumb; 
So, when affection yields discourse, it seems 
 The bottom is but shallow whence they come.
They that are rich in words, in words discover That they are poor in that which makes a lover.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

A Literature Lesson. Sir Patrick Spens in the Eighteenth Century Manner

 VERSE I 

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? VERSE II 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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Epitaph

 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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Like Truthless Dreams So Are My Joys Expired

 Like truthless dreams, so are my joys expired, 
And past return are all my dandled days; 
My love misled, and fancy quite retired— 
Of all which passed 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 passed 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 passed the sorrow only stays.
Whom care forewarns, ere age and winter cold, To haste me hence to find my fortune's fold.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

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! Quod Raleigh.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

The Artist

 The Artist and his Luckless Wife 
They lead a horrid haunted life, 
Surrounded by the things he's made 
That are not wanted by the trade.
The world is very fair to see; The Artist will not let it be; He fiddles with the works of God, And makes them look uncommon odd.
The Artist is an awful man, He does not do the things he can; He does the things he cannot do, And we attend the private view.
The Artist uses honest paint To represent things as they ain't, He then asks money for the time It took to perpetrate the crime.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

The Conclusion

 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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Her Reply

 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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Sestina Otiosa

 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.


by Sir Walter Raleigh | |

Stans Puer ad Mensam

 Attend my words, my gentle knave, 
And you shall learn from me 
How boys at dinner may behave 
With due propriety.
Guard well your hands: two things have been Unfitly used by some; The trencher for a tambourine, The table for a drum.
We could not lead a pleasant life, And 'twould be finished soon, If peas were eaten with the knife, And gravy with the spoon.
Eat slowly: only men in rags And gluttons old in sin Mistake themselves for carpet bags And tumble victuals in.
The privy pinch, the whispered tease, The wild, unseemly yell -- When children do such things as these, We say, "It is not well.
" Endure your mother's timely stare, Your father's righteous ire, And do not wriggle on your chair Like flannel in the fire.
Be silent: you may chatter loud When you are fully grown, Surrounded by a silent crowd Of children of your own.
If you should suddenly feel bored And much inclined to yawning, Your little hand will best afford A modest useful awning.
Think highly of the Cat: and yet You need not therefore think That portly strangers like your pet To share their meat and drink.
The end of dinner comes ere long When, once more full and free, You cheerfully may bide the gong That calls you to your tea.


by Craig Raine | |

In Modern Dress

 A pair of blackbirds
warring in the roses,
one or two poppies

losing their heads,
the trampled lawn
a battlefield of dolls.
Branch by pruned branch, a child has climbed the family tree to queen it over us: we groundlings search the flowering cherry till we find her face, its pale prerogative to rule our hearts.
Sir Walter Raleigh trails his comforter about the muddy garden, a full-length Hilliard in miniature hose and padded pants.
How rakishly upturned his fine moustache of oxtail soup, foreshadowing, perhaps, some future time of altered favour, stuck in the high chair like a pillory, features pelted with food.
So many expeditions to learn the history of this little world: I watch him grub in the vegetable patch and ponder the potato in its natural state for the very first time, or found a settlement of leaves and sticks, cleverly protected by a circle of stones.
But where on earth did he manage to find that cigarette end? Rain and wind.
The day disintegrates.
I observe the lengthy inquisition of a worm then go indoors to face a scattered armada of picture hooks on the dining room floor, the remains of a ruff on my glass of beer, Sylvia Plath's Ariel drowned in the bath.
Washing hair, I kneel to supervise a second rinse and act the courtier: tiny seed pearls, tingling into sight, confer a kind of majesty.
And I am author of this toga'd tribune on my aproned lap, who plays his part to an audience of two, repeating my words.