Sir Walter Ralegh

Start Free Trial

What does Walter Raleigh aim to convey in "A Farewell to False Love"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this poem, the speaker is saying goodbye to women who offer him false love. By this, he presumably means he is giving up on lovers with "beauty" who only pretend to love him back.

Raleigh uses a series of metaphors to express the idea that false love is a form of torment that disguises itself as something else. Metaphors are comparisons that do not use the words like or as. For instance, his speaker likens false love to

A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers.

We can easily picture this image of a snake covered lovely flowers. You might be attracted by the beauty of the flowers and their scent, and, without knowing it until too late, encounter a biting snake. The speaker also likens false love to

A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait

Once again, you might think you have "hooked" or found a relationship with someone good, only to find you have been deceived.

In the final stanza, the speaker says he can give up on false love because he has killed the root of self-deception inside himself.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sir Walter Raleigh's poem "A Farewell To False Love" is an extended metaphor poem. Raleigh is simply comparing false love to many different things he feels he can compare fraudulent love to.

IN the end, Raleigh declares that any love which one deems false is "a dead root where all these fancies grew."  By saying this, Raleigh is admitting that some, including himself, may try to make love into something is can never be. If the root of the love is poisoned, it cannot survive.

Basically, Raleigh is giving the reader multiple images to which they can associate a false love to. I believe that he does this so as to relate it to as many people as he possibly can. He wants to warn people about the problems associated with love gone bad.

This being said, the most important part of the poem would seem to be the title. Raleigh is admitting that one must say goodbye to a love that is poisoned or wrong. The love will never be able to change from what it is given the root of the love is dead. The love will always be dead given a healthy root, or base, is absent.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial