Friday, May 02, 2008

Sir Walter Raleigh Rediscovered

The following verses were found in the Bible of the gallant Sir Walter Raleigh after his beheading in the Tower of London. They have long been believed to be the last lines he ever wrote.

"Even such is Time, that takes on trust

Our youth, our joys, our 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:

But from this earth, this grave, this dust,

My God shall raise me up, I trust!"

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) was, of course, a flamboyant and skilled English sailor who served his country in various adventures - some in military endeavors, some as explorer, some in court intrigues, and some as pirate. Yet Raleigh was also an accomplished writer and poet whose work was largely forgotten -- with the exception of such perceptive antiquarians as C.S. Lewis who praised Raleigh as one of the "silver poets" of his age.

Perhaps Raleigh's reputation among modern readers will be raised, however, as people take advantage of new internet "publishing" opportunities which provide formerly unavailable texts. Yes, you've got to read them from a computer screen or take the time to print them out. But, c'mon; they are free after all. And, in the case of Raleigh's History of the World, A Discourse of the Original and Fundamental Cause of Natural War and several others, there isn't any way most of would ever be able to read these intriguing texts at all.

This collection of Sir Walter Raleigh material (established through the very impressive online Luminarium Anthology of English Literature ) includes a remarkable array of Raleigh's works available from Google books. Give it a look.