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Upon the death of my ever desired friend Doctor Donne Dean of Pauls

Henry King 1592 (Worminghall, Buckinghamshire) – 1669 (Chichester)

To have liv'd eminent in a degreee
Beyond our lofty'st flights, that is like thee;
Or t'have had too much merit is not safe;
For such excesses find no Epitaph.
At common graves we have Poetick eyes
Can melt themselves in easie Elegies;
Each quill can drop his tributary verse,
And pin it with the Hatchments, to the Herse:
But at thine, Poem or inscription
(Rich Soul of wit and language); we have none;
Indeed a silence does that Tomb befit
Where is no Herald left to blazon it.
Widdow'd invention justly doth forbear
To come abroad knowing thou art not here,
Late her great Patron; whose prerogative
Maintain'd and cloth'd her so, as none alive
Must now presume to keep her at thy rate,
Though he the Indies for her dowre estate:
Or else that awful fire, which once did burn
In thy clear brain, now fall'n into thy Urn.
Lives there to fright rude Empericks from thence,
Which might profane thee by their ignorance:
Who ever writes of thee, and in a style
Unworthy such a Theme, does but revile
Thy precious dust, and wake a learned spirit
Which may revenge his rapes upon thy merit.
For all a low-pitcht fancie can devise,
Will prove at best but hallow'd injuries.
Thou, like the dying Swan, didst lately sing
Thy mournful Dirge in audience of the King;
When pale looks, and faint accents of thy breath,
Presented so to life that piece of death,
That it was fear'd and prophesi'd by all
Thou thither cam'st to preach thy Funerall.
O! hadst thou in an Elegiack knell
Rung out unto the world thine own farewell;
And in thy high victorious numbers beat
The solemn measure of thy griev'd retreat:
Thou might'st the Poets service now have mist,
As well as then thou didst prevent the Priest:
And never to the world beholden be,
So much as for an Epitaph for thee.
I do not like the office. Nor is't fit
Thou, who didst lend our age such summes of wit,
Should'st now reborrow from her Bankrupt Mine
That Ore to bury thee, which once was thine.
Rather still leave us in thy debt; and know
(Exalted Soul!) More glory 'tis to ow
Unto thy Herse what we can never pay,
Then with embased coin those Rites defray.
Commit we then Thee to Thy Self: nor blame
Our drooping loves, which thus to thine own fame
Leave Thee Executour: since but thy own
No pen could do Thee Justice, nor Bayes crown
Thy vast desert; save that we nothing can
Depute to be thy ashes Guardian.
So Jewellers no Art or Metal trust
To form the Diamond, but the Diamonds dust.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:20 min read

Henry King

Henry King was an English poet who served as Bishop of Chichester. more…

All Henry King poems | Henry King Books

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