Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BACON'S EPITAPH, MADE BY HIS MAN, by JOHN COTTON (1640-1699)

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BACON'S EPITAPH, MADE BY HIS MAN, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Death, why so cruel? What! No other way
Last Line: Whether to caesar he was friend or foe.
Subject(s): Bacon, Nathaniel (1647-1676); Jamestown, Virginia

DEATH, why so cruel? What! no other way
To manifest thy spleen, but thus to slay
Our hopes of safety, liberty, our all,
Which, through thy tyranny, with him must fall
To its late chaos? Had thy rigid force
Been dealt by retail, and not thus in gross,
Grief had been silent. Now we must complain,
Since thou, in him, hast more than thousands slain,
Whose lives and safeties did so much depend
On him their life, with him their lives must end.
If't be a sin to think Death brib'd can be
We must be guilty; say 't was bribery
Guided the fatal shaft. Virginia's foes,
To whom for secret crimes just vengeance owes
Deserved plagues, dreading their just desert,
Corrupted Death by Paracelsian art
Him to destroy; whose well-tried courage such,
Their heartless hearts, nor arms, nor strength could touch.
Who now must heal those wounds, or stop that blood
The Heathen made, and drew into a flood?
Who is 't must plead our cause? nor trump, nor drum,
Nor Deputation; these, alas! are dumb
And cannot speak. Our arms (though ne'er so strong)
Will want the aid of his commanding tongue,
Which conquer'd more than Caesar. He o'erthrew
Only the outward frame; this could subdue
The rugged works of nature. Souls replete
With dull chill cold, he'd animate with heat
Drawn forth of reason's limbec. In a word,
Mars and Minerva both in him concurred
For arts, for arms, whose pen and sword alike
As Cato's did, may admiration strike
Into his foes; while they confess withal
It was their guilt styl'd him a criminal.
Only this difference does from truth proceed:
They in the guilt, he in the name must bleed.
While none shall dare his obsequies to sing
In deserv'd measures; until time shall bring
Truth crown'd with freedom, and from danger free
To sound his praises to posterity.
Here let him rest; while we this truth report,
He's gone from hence unto a higher Court
To plead his cause, where he by this doth know
Whether to Caesar he was friend or foe.

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