Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ELEGY UPON THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, by JOHN CLEVELAND



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AN ELEGY UPON THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I need no muse to give my passion vent
Last Line: Tis height makes grantham steeple stand awry.


I NEED no Muse to give my passion vent,
He brews his tears that studies to lament.
Verse chemically weeps; that pious rain
Distilled with art is but the sweat o' th' brain.
Whoever sobbed in numbers? Can a groan
Be quavered out by soft division?
'Tis true for common formal elegies
Not Bushel's Wells can match a poet's eyes
In wanton water-works; he'll tune his tears
From a Geneva jig up to the spheres.
But then he mourns at distance, weeps aloof.
Now that the conduit head is our own roof,
Now that the fate is public, we may call
It Britain's vespers, England's funeral.
Who hath a pencil to express the Saint
But he hath eyes too, washing off the paint?
There is no learning but what tears surround,
Like to Seth's pillars in the Deluge drowned.
There is no Church; Religion is grown
So much of late that she's increased to none,
Like an hydropic body, full of rheums,
First swells into a bubble, then consumes.
The Law is dead or cast into a trance, --
And by a law dough-baked, an Ordinance!
The Liturgy, whose doom was voted next,
Died as a comment upon him the text.
There's nothing lives; life is, since he is gone,
But a nocturnal lucubration.
Thus you have seen death's inventory read
In the sum total, -- Canterbury's dead;
A sight would make a Pagan to baptize
Himself a convert in his bleeding eyes;
Would thaw the rabble, that fierce beast of ours,
(That which hyena-like weeps and devours)
Tears that flow brackish from their souls within,
Not to repent, but pickle up their sin.
Meantime no squalid grief his look defiles.
He gilds his sadder fate with nobler smiles.
Thus the world's eye, with reconciled streams,
Shines in his showers as if he wept his beams.
How could success such villanies applaud?
The State in Strafford fell, the Church in Laud;
The twins of public rage, adjudged to die
For treasons they should act, by prophecy;
The facts were done before the laws were made;
The trump turned up after the game was played.
Be dull, great spirits, and forbear to climb,
For worth is sin and eminence a crime.
No churchman can be innocent and high.
'Tis height makes Grantham steeple stand awry.





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