Featured Poem: Her Reply by Sir Walter Raleigh

Planning is important to my life. I plan. A lot. I wouldn’t say I always particularly like doing it; it just seems to come naturally. It’s what I do. In my college and university days when undertaking any kind of assignment I would go through many various stages of planning until I was satisfied I could successfully go ahead; this usually involved me scribbling the entire contents of my head relating to the topic at hand on masses of paper. Nearly a year after graduation, I’ve found I can’t quite kick the habit. When it comes to anything, be it making a political decision or arranging a ‘casual’ day out, you can be guaranteed I’ll be there with pen firmly in hand, jotting down all the pros and cons or making notes about particular attractions and transport routes. I have even been known to compile the occasional list, although thankfully I’m keeping tabs on that at present – I can safely say they’re few and far between.

The general point is I don’t tend towards spontaneity. Surprise, if it’s not limited to my birthday or another annual occasion, doesn’t fill me with excitement so much as make me feel on edge. When someone suggests going somewhere or doing something out of the blue, on the spur of the moment, I find it hard to sit back and go with the flow. Instead I instantly begin weighing up the possibilities; wondering what would be best; firmly screwing on my planner head. That’s not to say I’m constantly fixed rigid – then I really would start to be concerned – but making a snap decision about what to eat or what dress to buy is about as ‘random’ as I get (It’s only just occurred to me how unsuitable the word ‘random’ is to describe many number of situations. I’m guilty of overusing said word to refer to things that are slightly out of context or otherwise unusual, but, really, can they be truly classed as ‘random’? Anyway, I won’t bore you with the ponderings of a linguistic geek.).

In a bid to become ever so slightly more spontaneous, I have left this week’s featured poem unplanned. It has been picked entirely at random (in the truest sense of the word) from the nearest poetry book I have to hand. It’s a small step, but a brave one. And of course, poetry doesn’t need to be themed to enjoy, it’s just a bonus. And what better day to veer from the ordinary routine than a bank holiday? Maybe impulsiveness is something I could get used to…in time.

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 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.

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618)

5 thoughts on “Featured Poem: Her Reply by Sir Walter Raleigh”

  1. Hi Lisa
    What a wonderful choice – really butts in to to your internal conversation about plans brilliantly!
    There are so many good poems from this period about Spring – I love Robert Herrick and particularly remember reading this with a Get Into Reading group at Ridgeway library – where my old pal Dorrie loved the ending of this:

    CORINNA’S GOING A-MAYING.
    by Robert Herrick

    GET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
    Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
    See how Aurora throws her fair
    Fresh-quilted colours through the air :
    Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
    The dew bespangling herb and tree.
    Each flower has wept and bow’d toward the east
    Above an hour since : yet you not dress’d ;
    Nay ! not so much as out of bed?
    When all the birds have matins said
    And sung their thankful hymns, ’tis sin,
    Nay, profanation to keep in,
    Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
    Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

    Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
    To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
    And sweet as Flora. Take no care
    For jewels for your gown or hair :
    Fear not ; the leaves will strew
    Gems in abundance upon you :
    Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
    Against you come, some orient pearls unwept ;
    Come and receive them while the light
    Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
    And Titan on the eastern hill
    Retires himself, or else stands still
    Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
    Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

    Come, my Corinna, come ; and, coming, mark
    How each field turns a street, each street a park
    Made green and trimm’d with trees : see how
    Devotion gives each house a bough
    Or branch : each porch, each door ere this
    An ark, a tabernacle is,
    Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
    As if here were those cooler shades of love.
    Can such delights be in the street
    And open fields and we not see’t ?
    Come, we’ll abroad ; and let’s obey
    The proclamation made for May :
    And sin no more, as we have done, by staying ;
    But, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

    There’s not a budding boy or girl this day
    But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
    A deal of youth, ere this, is come
    Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
    Some have despatch’d their cakes and cream
    Before that we have left to dream :
    And some have wept, and woo’d, and plighted troth,
    And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
    Many a green-gown has been given ;
    Many a kiss, both odd and even :
    Many a glance too has been sent
    From out the eye, love’s firmament ;
    Many a jest told of the keys betraying
    This night, and locks pick’d, yet we’re not a-Maying.

    Come, let us go while we are in our prime ;
    And take the harmless folly of the time.
    We shall grow old apace, and die
    Before we know our liberty.
    Our life is short, and our days run
    As fast away as does the sun ;
    And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
    Once lost, can ne’er be found again,
    So when or you or I are made
    A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
    All love, all liking, all delight
    Lies drowned with us in endless night.
    Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
    Come, my Corinna, come, let’s go a-Maying.

  2. NO NO NOs
    It is one poem in poem of the week not two as then becomes poems of the week or lots of poems on the same subject and becomes poetry. I t is confusing to have two poems in poem of the week as i have asked people how many poem should be featured in poem of the week and the answer is one as i am confused( does not take much) which poem should i be thinking about although i have nothing against the above poem it should wait its turn to be poem of the week as patience is a virtue
    You should have seen me yesterday stomping and stamping
    OH well !! feel much better after saying all that and you are very nice i suppose, i shall sleep better now

  3. Hi lousie
    OK – sorry I won’t do that again!!

    Next time perhaps just mention the name so anyone who doesn’t mind reading another can, if they want?

    sorry to exasperate you
    Jane

  4. OH DEAR, all is calm on the western front as they say wherever that may be, and i accept your apology , good job i know you otherwise i would be stomping about for God knows how long . One has moved onto different problems in the world , well i have fixed this little problem up thanks again love louise sleep well!

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