Why poor Sir Walter? Well, I can't claim he hadn't committed an offence for which legally he deserved to die, but he almost certainly hadn't committed the one for which he was executed.
Raleigh was an extraordinary man: adventurous, restless, reckless, arrogant, brave and foolish. He served two monarchs and annoyed both of them very much indeed.
He was, as well as being a soldier, adventurer, explorer, trader, politician and spy, a very good poet.
Here he is, in middle age:
painting by William Segar, 1598.
This poem is a favourite. It's supposed to be written by a man on the point of death, and the story is that it was written by Raleigh while awaiting execution in the Tower of London in 1603 (he was reprieved that time).
On first glance probably the most amazing thing about this quietly reflective poem is that it was written by Sir Walter Raleigh. A second look explains more or less everything.
Here's the beginning, but the whole glorious thing can be found here.
Give me my scallop-shell of quiet
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hope's true gage:
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.
Blood must be my body's balmer;
No other balm will there be given;
Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer,
Travelleth towards the land of heaven:
Over the silver mountains,
Where spring the nectar fountains:
There will I kiss
The bowl of bliss:
And drink mine everlasting fill
Upon every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before:
But, after, it will thirst no more.
Word To Use Today: pilgrimage. This word comes from the Provençal pelegrin, from the Latin peregrinus, foreign, from per, through, and ager, field.