Sunday Poetry – Sir Walter Raleigh

Last Sunday I was reading Christopher Marlowe, this week, it’s Sir Walter Raleigh’s response to Marlowe’s poem. The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd is a sober, cool response to the rapturous heights of Marlowe’s poem. Just as last week’s poem suited the hot, languorous weather we were having in Melbourne that day, so this poem suits today’s grey, coolness. It rained all night & it’s still quite humid but I hope a southerly breeze will take the humidity away very soon.

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 complain 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.

5 thoughts on “Sunday Poetry – Sir Walter Raleigh

  1. I love the portrait too, it's so romantic. I love Hilliard's miniatures anyway but this one is very appropriate to the poem. The dialogue between poets is interesting too.


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