Elizabeth I is pleased by Ralegh’s elegy “The Ocean, to Cynthia”.

So Elizabeth I is pleased by her read of “The Ocean, to Cynthia”. She gets what Raleigh is trying to say to her. His way of making apology for the glitch of him secretly marrying Elizabeth Throgmorton and he feels so bad that she was so hurt upon discovery of this thing. Ralegh tells us he wanted to mitigate her anger towards him and so while in the tower he began thinking about what to write to express how it kills him when she scorns him. Raleigh’s commonplace book indicates he wanted to give her the gift of “Bewty that cannot vade” and therefore he calls her “ever fair” Hero in his elegy celebrating Elizabeth I in “The Ocean, to Cynthia”:

On Sestos’ shore, Leander’s late resort,
Hero hath left no lamp to guide her love.
Thou lookest for light in vain, and storms arise;
She sleeps thy death that erst thy danger sighed;
Strive then no more, bow down thy weary eyes,
Eyes which to all these woes thy heart have guided.
She is gone, she is lost, she is found, she is ever fair;
Sorrow draws weakly where love draws not too;
Woe’s cries sound nothing, but only in love’s ear.
Do then by dying what life cannot do.

Raleigh strives to create the present in his poetry of her as his Hero the fair who is ever fair. Hence although she is gone, she is lost, to him, he is sure when she found by whomever “she is ever fair”.

What makes Ralegh different from the Earl of Essex is that he was known as, and indeed attacked for being, a writer and for using poetry in his political life. Essex calls him a bird, a cuckoo, a parrot who unceasingly prates. Raleigh asserts his power as a poet as he constructs a symbolic order that confers immortality upon Elizabeth. For example:

Essex bitterly inveighs against Ralegh’s precedence at court. Sir Walter is characterized as a bird, a cuckoo, a parrot, that can “never cease to prate.” He is also “Water,” Elizabeth’s nickname for him: “filthy water makes unholsome broth” and “it is to much to thinke,/So pure a mouth should puddle water drinke.” The Earl tries to show that Raleigh’s “conceite,” created with “wretched skill,” has “cost” Essex’s “high conceate.”

Ralegh also asserts his power, as a poet, to construct a symbolic order that confers immortality upon Elizabeth. This literary service is celebrated in a poem which he copied into his commonplace book.

Now we have present made
To Cynthia, phaebe, flora,
Diana and Aurora:
Bewty that cannot vade. (1-4)


About Rich Willis

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