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Sir Walter Ralegh (ca. 1552-1618)

The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage


[Supposed to be written by one at the point of death]

              1Give me my scallop shell of quiet,
              2My staff of faith to walk upon,
              3My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
              4My bottle of salvation,
              5My gown of glory, hope's true gage,
              6And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

              7  Blood must be my body's balmer,
              8No other balm will there be given,
              9Whilst my soul, like a white palmer,
            10Travels to the land of heaven;
            11Over the silver mountains,
            12Where spring the nectar fountains;
            13And there I'll kiss
            14The bowl of bliss,
            15And drink my eternal fill
            16On every milken hill.
            17My soul will be a-dry before,
            18But after it will ne'er thirst more;
            19And by the happy blissful way
            20More peaceful pilgrims I shall see,
            21That have shook off their gowns of clay,
            22And go apparelled fresh like me.
            23I'll bring them first
            24To slake their thirst,
            25And then to taste those nectar suckets,
            26At the clear wells
            27Where sweetness dwells,
            28Drawn up by saints in crystal buckets.

            29  And when our bottles and all we
            30Are fill'd with immortality,
            31Then the holy paths we'll travel,
            32Strew'd with rubies thick as gravel,
            33Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors,
            34High walls of coral, and pearl bowers.

            35  From thence to heaven's bribeless hall
            36Where no corrupted voices brawl,
            37No conscience molten into gold,
            38Nor forg'd accusers bought and sold,
            39No cause deferr'd, nor vain-spent journey,
            40For there Christ is the king's attorney,
            41Who pleads for all without degrees,
            42And he hath angels, but no fees.
            43When the grand twelve million jury
            44Of our sins and sinful fury,
            45'Gainst our souls black verdicts give,
            46Christ pleads his death, and then we live.
            47Be thou my speaker, taintless pleader,
            48Unblotted lawyer, true proceeder,
            49Thou movest salvation even for alms,
            50Not with a bribed lawyer's palms.
            51And this is my eternal plea
            52To him that made heaven, earth, and sea,
            53Seeing my flesh must die so soon,
            54And want a head to dine next noon,
            55Just at the stroke when my veins start and spread,
            56Set on my soul an everlasting head.
            57Then am I ready, like a palmer fit,
            58To tread those blest paths which before I writ.

Notes

1] In Ashmole MS 38 this poem is entitled "Verses made by Sir Walter Raleigh the night before he was beheaded." Presumably the proper reference is to 1603, when he was imprisoned and sentenced to death, to be reprieved three weeks later.
scallop-shell: the badge of the returning pilgrim.

3] scrip: wallet.

7] balmer: embalmer.

25] sucket: sweetmeats.

35-50] Ralegh refers to his own unjust trial.

42] angels: an old English gold coin; as here often used punningly.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Anthony Scoloker, Diaphantus, or the Passions of Love (London: T. C[reede]. for W. Cotton, 1604). STC 21853
First publication date: 1604
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.181; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10

Composition date: 1603
Rhyme: ababcc


Other poems by Sir Walter Ralegh