Best Famous Sir Walter Raleigh Poems

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Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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!
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

The Lie

 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; Say to the church, it shows What's good, and doth no good: If church and court reply, Then give them both the lie.
Tell potentates, they live Acting by others' action; Not loved unless they give, Not strong but by a faction.
If potentates reply, Give potentates the lie.
Tell men of high condition, That manage the estate, Their purpose is ambition, Their practice only hate: And if they once reply, Then give them all the lie.
Tell them that brave it most, They beg for more by spending, Who, in their greatest cost, Seek nothing but commending.
And if they make reply, Then give them all the lie.
Tell zeal it wants devotion; Tell love it is but lust; Tell time it is but motion; Tell flesh it is but dust: And wish them not reply, For thou must give the lie.
Tell age it daily wasteth; Tell honour how it alters; Tell beauty how she blasteth; Tell favour how it falters: And as they shall reply, Give every one the lie.
Tell wit how much it wrangles In tickle points of niceness; Tell wisdom she entangles Herself in overwiseness: And when they do reply, Straight give them both the lie.
Tell physic of her boldness; Tell skill it is pretension; Tell charity of coldness; Tell law it is contention: And as they do reply, So give them still the lie.
Tell fortune of her blindness; Tell nature of decay; Tell friendship of unkindness; Tell justice of delay: And if they will reply, Then give them all the lie.
Tell arts they have no soundness, But vary by esteeming; Tell schools they want profoundness, And stand too much on seeming: If arts and schools reply, Give arts and schools the lie.
Tell faith it's fled the city; Tell how the country erreth; Tell manhood shakes off pity And virtue least preferreth: And if they do reply, Spare not to give the lie.
So when thou hast, as I Commanded thee, done blabbing— Although to give the lie Deserves no less than stabbing— Stab at thee he that will, No stab the soul can kill.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem


 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.
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 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.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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.
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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.
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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.
Written by Sir Walter Raleigh | Create an image from this poem

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.
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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.
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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.