Figure I: A Comely Frontispiece!
Perhaps you have heard of Sir Walter Rale(i)gh (1552-1618), that great explorer, courtier, and cad. But did you also know he was also a first-rate versifier in an age saturated with bards of varying quality? Just one in a long line of Briton explorer-poets, Ralegh's rhymes far outrank the efforts of his fellows, like Sir Francis Drake's erotic blank verse epic Mine Golden Hind, or Cristobal Colon's misguided collaboration with cycloptic soldier-poet Luis de Camões to put his ship logbooks into heptameter, "Doubt Thee I Ye Indies Found?".
Figure II: The company's slogan (original: "Sooner or later - thine favourite Tobaccoe") is a line from Ralegh's 1603 poem, "A Blaste for Tobacco"
Below I will share some of Walt's work, notable for its brevity in an age of long-winded ramblings and its direct language (minus some abominable sixteenth-century spelling, thankfully modernized). Ralegh felt that publishing his poetry was ungentlemanly, so much of his work was printed only after his unfortunate execution for potato smuggling in 1618.
Figure III: Ralegh served as a Chironic poetical tutor to a 'young John Donne' -- sayeth that thrice with haste!
Despite his great enthusiasm for the pleasures of Elizabethan life, Ralegh abhorred that great English vice, gambling (not to be confused with another popular pastime in that age of unstandardized spelling, gamboling). To this end, he composed a "squared quatrain" that illustrated the folly of card and dice games in apocalyptic language:
On the Cards and the Dice
Finally, the Cabinet leaves you with Ralegh's self-penned epitaph. I hope that you have enjoyed this sampling of our benighted Walter's verse. Stay tuned for the next installment in this series, "The Performance Art of Sir Martin Frobisher," highlighting his great one-man show, Passages.
Even Such is Time