Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEONORA; ELEGY ON THE COUNTESS OF ABINGDON, by JOHN DRYDEN



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ELEONORA; ELEGY ON THE COUNTESS OF ABINGDON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: No single virtue we could most commend
Last Line: Clothed all in white, the livery of the day.
Subject(s): Death; Dead, The


NO single virtue we could most commend,
Whether the wife, the mother, or the friend;
For she was all, in that supreme degree,
That, as no one prevailed, so all was she.
The several parts lay hidden in the piece;
The occasion but exerted that, or this.
A wife as tender, and as true withal,
As the first woman was before her fall:
Made for the man, of whom she was a part;
Made to attract his eyes, and keep his heart.
A second Eve, but by no crime accursed;
As beauteous, not as brittle, as the first.
Had she been first, still Paradise had been,
And death had found no entrance by her sin.
So she not only had preserved from ill
Her sex and ours, but lived their pattern still.
Love and obedience to her lord she bore;
She much obeyed him, but she loved him more:
Not awed to duty by superior sway,
But taught by his indulgence to obey.
Thus we love God, as author of our good.

Yet unemployed no minute slipped away;
Moments were precious in so short a stay.
The haste of Heaven to have her was so great
That some were single acts, though each complete;
But every act stood ready to repeat.
Her fellow-saints with busy care will look
For her blest name in fate's eternal book;
And, pleased to be outdone, with joy will see
Numberless virtues, endless charity:
But more will wonder at so short an age,
To find a blank beyond the thirtieth page;
And with a pious fear begin to doubt
The piece imperfect, and the rest torn out.
But't was her Saviour's time; and could there be
A copy near the original, 't was she.
As precious gums are not for lasting fire,
They but perfume the temple, and expire;
So was she soon exhaled, and vanished hence,—
A short sweet odor, of a vast expense.
She vanished, we can scarcely say she died;
For but a now did heaven and earth divide:
She passed serenely with a single breath;
This moment perfect health, the next was death:
One sigh did her eternal bliss assure;
So little penance needs, when souls are almost pure.
As gentle dreams our waking thoughts pursue;
Or, one dream passed, we slide into a new;
So close they follow, such wild order keep,
We think ourselves awake, and are asleep:
So softly death succeeded life in her:
She did but dream of heaven, and she was there.
No pains she suffered, nor expired with noise;
Her soul was whispered out with God's still voice;
As an old friend is beckoned to a feast,
And treated like a long-familiar guest.
He took her as he found, but found her so,
As one in hourly readiness to go:
E'en on that day, in all her trim prepared;
As early notice she from heaven had heard,
And some descending courier from above
Had given her timely warning to remove;
Or counseled her to dress the nuptial room,
For on that night the bridegroom was to come.
He kept his hour, and found her where she lay
Clothed all in white, the livery of the day.





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