Friday, 21 September 2012

Weekend Quote #12

“Go, soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
The Truth shall be thy warrant.”

This Weekend Quote is but a few lines from Sir Walter Raleigh's poem “The Lie.” It's a wonderful, beautiful, and at the same time, sad poem. Some say he wrote this poem in the Tower of London, where he was finally executed. I respect Sir Walter's frankness and courage shown in this poem, and in his other poems.

The poem's theme is political and social criticism. He condemns the church, the state, the court, the nobles – people he thinks responsible – in this poem. Dissatisfied with things in the society, he even states love and zeal to be false, and art to have no soundness. Just imagining him reading this in his cell makes my heart bleed. But for now I just want to focus on the first 4 lines of the poem.

He asks his “soul” to go and tell people their faults, since he cannot do so, being a soon-to-be-dead person. He states that the errand is “thankless,” that no one would praise him for doing such, and yet he still wants to say his thoughts. He knows that the subjects condemned in his poem are people of high position, therefore he urges his soul not to “fear to touch the best” people, because he knows well the truth of his saying, and that truth gives him the right to accuse the people of their guilt.

Well, that's mine. Now I'm ready for yours.


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  1. Gosh I LOVE Sir Walter Raleigh! (or Ralegh, cause I have an Everyman's Poetry book of his works, and it said Ralegh instead of Raleigh)
    And I wonder why he stood considerably unknown amongst other poets!

    My favorite poem of his:
    "Ev'n 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 wander'd all our ways
    Shuts up the story of our days.
    And from which earth and grave and dust
    The Lord shall raise me up, I trust."

    I even thought that I'd make the last 2 lines my epitaph X)

  2. Oh yes, I have that one too. Raleigh's words are beautiful, and he had great concern in political and social matters. I haven't read all his works because I knew he died being executed. (This kind of things makes me scared.)