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Sixteenth Century Clay Pipe Smoker

Whilst reviewing Mathew Lyons’ excellent The Favourite: Ambition, Politics and Love – Sir Walter Ralegh in Elizabeth I’s Court,  I remembered a poem I wrote a few years ago about Ralegh. I reread the poem and thought it good enough to publish on Hobbinol’s Blog.  The poem reflects on Ralegh’s ‘achievements’ as explorer, coloniser and entrepreneur as he makes industrious use of his twelve thousand acre Irish estate. Ralegh oversaw ‘a great mercantile enterprise for converting his Irish woods into pipe-staves and wine-butts’ (Edwards 254). The poem also capitalises on Ralegh’s association with tobacco, which he had sent to him in Ireland from his North American colony named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth I.    


I often hear Youghal’s great Yews chortling

over the story of their colonial master,

along with the alluring affane cherries

descended from the exotic trees

that basked in the Canaries’ sun,

and those sweet perfumed

wallflowers from the Azores

the bees circle ponderously

in search of their molten gold.


Those mirthful plants rustle restlessly

beneath the perfidious puffs

of smoke drifting seductively

from my Cuban cigar, to fog

the resplendent Myrtle Grove’s sky

like Sir Walter Ralegh who,

silver pipe in hand, was unceremoniously

watered with a bucketful

from a well-meaning passer-by.


Edwards, Edward. The Life of Sir Walter Ralegh. Vol. 1. London: Macmillan & Co, 1868.