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Featured Poem: Her Reply by Sir Walter Raleigh

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 3rd May 2010

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)

1 thought on “Featured Poem: Her Reply by Sir Walter Raleigh

[…] pastoral and perfect romantic delight; The Nymph’s Reply to The Shepherd by Sir Walter Raleigh (a former Featured Poem). Not only does the use of the sexually-forward fishing-related metaphor stand in stark […]

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