Sir Walter Raleigh

Here you will find the Long Poem My Last Will of poet Sir Walter Raleigh

My Last Will

When I am safely laid away, 
 Out of work and out of play, 
 Sheltered by the kindly ground 
 From the world of sight and sound, 
 One or two of those I leave 
 Will remember me and grieve, 
 Thinking how I made them gay 
 By the things I used to say; 
 -- But the crown of their distress 
 Will be my untidiness. 

 What a nuisance then will be 
 All that shall remain of me! 
 Shelves of books I never read, 
 Piles of bills, undocketed, 
 Shaving-brushes, razors, strops, 
 Bottles that have lost their tops, 
 Boxes full of odds and ends, 
 Letters from departed friends, 
 Faded ties and broken braces 
 Tucked away in secret places, 
 Baggy trousers, ragged coats, 
 Stacks of ancient lecture-notes, 
 And that ghostliest of shows, 
 Boots and shoes in horrid rows. 
 Though they are of cheerful mind, 
 My lovers, whom I leave behind, 
 When they find these in my stead, 
 Will be sorry I am dead. 

 They will grieve; but you, my dear, 
 Who have never tasted fear, 
 Brave companion of my youth, 
 Free as air and true as truth, 
 Do not let these weary things 
 Rob you of your junketings. 

 Burn the papers; sell the books; 
 Clear out all the pestered nooks; 
 Make a mighty funeral pyre 
 For the corpse of old desire, 
 Till there shall remain of it 
 Naught but ashes in a pit: 
 And when you have done away 
 All that is of yesterday, 
 If you feel a thrill of pain, 
 Master it, and start again. 

 This, at least, you have never done 
 Since you first beheld the sun: 
 If you came upon your own 
 Blind to light and deaf to tone, 
 Basking in the great release 
 Of unconsciousness and peace, 
 You would never, while you live, 
 Shatter what you cannot give; 
 -- Faithful to the watch you keep, 
 You would never break their sleep. 

 Clouds will sail and winds will blow 
 As they did an age ago 
 O'er us who lived in little towns 
 Underneath the Berkshire downs. 
 When at heart you shall be sad, 
 Pondering the joys we had, 
 Listen and keep very still. 
 If the lowing from the hill 
 Or the tolling of a bell 
 Do not serve to break the spell, 
 Listen; you may be allowed 
 To hear my laughter from a cloud. 

 Take the good that life can give 
 For the time you have to live. 
 Friends of yours and friends of mine 
 Surely will not let you pine. 
 Sons and daughters will not spare 
 More than friendly love and care. 
 If the Fates are kind to you, 
 Some will stay to see you through; 
 And the time will not be long 
 Till the silence ends the song. 

 Sleep is God's own gift; and man, 
 Snatching all the joys he can, 
 Would not dare to give his voice 
 To reverse his Maker's choice. 
 Brief delight, eternal quiet, 
 How change these for endless riot 
 Broken by a single rest? 
 Well you know that sleep is best. 

 We that have been heart to heart 
 Fall asleep, and drift apart. 
 Will that overwhelming tide 
 Reunite us, or divide? 
 Whence we come and whither go 
 None can tell us, but I know 
 Passion's self is often marred 
 By a kind of self-regard, 
 And the torture of the cry 
 "You are you, and I am I." 
 While we live, the waking sense 
 Feeds upon our difference, 
 In our passion and our pride 
 Not united, but allied. 

 We are severed by the sun, 
 And by darkness are made one.