I really enjoy Sir Walter Ralegh’s poetry. I don’t like that he made tobacco and potatoes popular, but that’s just me. I would like to share this one poem by him, entitled “The Excuse.” I picked up a copy of his poems from the National Portrait Gallery when I went to see the Lost Prince exhibition, and I read the book whilst waiting for my train at Euston station. What a great read!
Calling to mind mine eye went long about
To cause my heart for to forsake my breast,
All in a rage I thought to pull it out,
By whose device I lived in such unrest.
What could it say then to regain my grace? –
Forsooth, that it had seen my mistress’ face.
Another time, I called unto mind,
It was my heart which all this woe had wrought,
Because that he to Love his fort resigned,
When on such wars my fancy never thought.
What could he say when I would have him slain? –
That he was yours, and had forgone me clean.
At length, when I perceived both eye and heart
Excuse themselves, as guiltless of mine ill,
I found myself the cause of all my smart,
And told myself, ‘Myself now slay I will.’
Yet when I saw myself to you was true,
I loved myself, because myself loved you.