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Sir Walter Raleigh (1554?–1618). Poems. 1892.


Sir Walter Raleigh’s Petition to Queen Anne of Denmark; 1618

O HAD truth power, the guiltless could not fall,

Malice win glory, or revenge triumph;

But truth alone cannot encounter all.

Mercy is fled to God, which mercy made;

Compassion dead; faith turned to policy;

Friends know not those who sit in sorrow’s shade.

For what we sometime were, we are no more:

Fortune hath changed our shape, and destiny

Defaced the very form we had before.

All love, and all desert of former times,

Malice hath covered from my sovereign’s eyes,

And largely laid abroad supposed crimes.

But kings call not to mind what vassals were,

But know them now, as envy hath described them:

So can I look on no side from despair.

Cold walls! to you I speak; but you are senseless:

Celestial Powers! you hear, but have determined,

And shall determine, to my greatest happiness.

Then unto whom shall I unfold my wrong,

Cast down my tears, or hold up folded hands?

To Her, to whom remorse doth most belong;

To Her who is the first, and may alone

Be justly called the Empress of the Bretanes.

Who should have mercy if a Queen have none?

Save those that would have died for your defence!

Save him whose thoughts no treason ever tainted!

For lo! destruction is no recompense.

If I have sold my duty, sold my faith

To strangers, which was only due to One;

Nothing I should esteem so dear as death.

But if both God and Time shall make you know

That I, your humblest vassal, am oppressed,

Then cast your eyes on undeserved woe;

That I and mine may never mourn the miss

Of Her we had, but praise our living Queen,

Who brings us equal, if not greater, bliss.