Raleigh’s ‘Ocean to Scinthia’, Spenser’s ‘Colin Clouts Come Home Againe’ and The Faerie Queene IV.vii in colonial context
This chapter considers the possibility that 'ocean' developed not only in reaction to Sir Walter Ralegh's courtly woes, including the Arthur Throckmorton disgrace of 1592, but also as a result, or reflection, of his colonial progress in the New World and Ireland. Ralegh's heroic actions while a soldier in Ireland also inspired allegorized episodes in Edmund Spenser's romance-epic The Faerie Queene, which is dedicated in part to Ralegh. Ralegh's poem was first published in 1870, soon after its discovery in Hatfield House, which location indicates that it may have been sent directly to the Cecils as original audience. Both Ralegh and Throckmorton would be exiled from Elizabeth's court. Like rapacious Lust, or a mad Irish king, Ralegh (and his wife) remains outside the pale of good repute.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book presents historical and literary work on Sir Walter Ralegh's courtly context, including the new editions of letters and poems. It highlights aspects of Ralegh as writer and his visual image that are the subjects of new or renewed scholarly interest. The book examines the complex, ambiguous relationship between Raleigh and Edmund Spenser while they were part of the English settlement in Ireland and afterwards in London. It analyses the famous exchange between Christopher Marlowe's 'Passionate Shepherd to his Love' and Ralegh's 'Nymph's Reply', and the four centuries of variations on that theme. The book focuses on visual presentations of Ralegh, a man famous for outward ostentation.