Sir Walter Raleigh's literary legacy consists of a highly fragmented oeuvre including many unprinted or pirated poems and works of disputed authorship. No collection of Raleigh's poetry produced under his own direction or that of a contemporary, either in print or in manuscript, exists. This book is a collection of essays by scholars from Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Taiwan that covers a wide range of topics about Raleigh's diversified career and achievements. Some essays shed light on less familiar facets such as Raleigh as a father and as he is represented in paintings, statues, and in movies. Others re-examine him as poet, historian, as a controversial figure in Ireland during Elizabeth's reign, and looks at his complex relationship with and patronage of Edmund Spenser. The theme of Raleigh's poem is a mutability that is political: i.e., the precariousness of the ageing courtier's estate, as revealed by his fall from eminence and the loss of his privileged position in court. The Cynthia holograph engages in complex ways with idealistic pastoral, a genre predicated upon the pursuit of otium (a longing for the ideal and an escape from the actual). The Nymph's reply offers a reminder of the power of time and death to ensure the failure of that attempt. There were patrilineal imperatives that might have shaped Raleigh's views of sovereignty. Raleigh's story is an actor's story, one crafted by its own maker for the world-as-stage.
Allusion, anti-pastoral, and four centuries of pastoral invitations
Christopher Marlowe's 'Passionate Shepherd to his Love' and Sir Walter Ralegh's 'Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd' were printed, certainly not for the first time, but in what have become their standard versions in Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler. This was the first time 'The Nymph's Reply' was attributed to Ralegh, an attribution which has been generally accepted ever since. Marlowe's 'The Passionate Shepherd to his Love' is a pastoral invitation based on roughly similar invitations in Theocritus, Virgil, and Ovid. Even before the first printed version of Ralegh's reply in 1599, Marlowe's poem had an immediate influence, and must have circulated quickly in manuscript. From England's Helicon to the present, Marlowe's and Ralegh's poems have been paired as standard inclusions in anthologies. A full appreciation of William Wordsworth's 'The Mad Mother' depends on the reader's perception of his deeply ironic troping of earlier poems in the Marlowe-Ralegh tradition.