Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM HERVEY, by ABRAHAM COWLEY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ON THE DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM HERVEY, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: It was a dismal and a fearful night
Last Line: Where grief and misery can be joyn'd with verse.
Subject(s): Grief; Hervey, William; Mourning; Sorrow; Sadness; Bereavement

IT was a dismal and a fearful night:
Scarce could the Morn drive on th' unwilling Light,
When Sleep, Death's image, left my troubled breast
By something liker Death possest.
My eyes with tears did uncommanded flow,
And on my soul hung the dull weight
Of some intolerable fate.
What bell was that? Ah me! too much I know!

My sweet companion and my gentle peer,
Why hast thou left me thus unkindly here,
Thy end for ever and my life to moan?
O, thou hast left me all alone!
Thy soul and body, when death's agony
Besieged around thy noble heart,
Did not with more reluctance part
Than I, my dearest Friend, do part from thee.

My dearest Friend, would I had died for thee!
Life and this world henceforth will tedious be:
Nor shall I know hereafter what to do
If once my griefs prove tedious too.
Silent and sad I walk about all day,
As sullen ghosts stalk speechless by
Where their hid treasures lie;
Alas! my treasure 's gone; why do I stay?

He was my Friend, the truest Friend on earth:
A strong and mighty Influence joyn'd our Birth.
Nor did we envy the most sounding Name
By Friendship given of old to Fame.
None but his Brethren he, and Sisters knew,
Whom the kind Youth preferr'd to Me;
And even in that we did agree,
For much above myself I lov'd them too.

Say, for you saw us, ye immortal lights,
How oft unwearied have we spent the nights,
Till the LedAEan stars, so famed for love,
Wonder'd at us from above!
We spent them not in toys, in lusts, or wine;
But search of deep Philosophy,
Wit, Eloquence, and Poetry --
Arts which I loved, for they, my Friend, were thine.

Ye fields of Cambridge, our dear Cambridge, say
Have ye not seen us walking every day?
Was there a tree about which did not know
The love betwixt us two?
Henceforth, ye gentle trees, for ever fade;
Or your sad branches thicker join
And into darksome shades combine,
Dark as the grave wherein my Friend is laid!

Henceforth no learned Youths beneath you Sing,
'Til all the tuneful Birds to your bows they bring;
No tuneful Birds play with their wonted chear,
And call the learned Youths to hear;
Nor whistling Winds through the glad branches fly,
But all with sad solemnitie,
Mute and unmoved be,
Mute as the grave wherein my Friend does ly.

To him my Muse made haste with every strain
Whilst it was new, and warm yet from the Brain.
He loved my worthless Rhymes, and like a Friend
Would finde out something to commend.
Hence now, my Muse, thou canst not me delight;
Be this my latest verse
With which I now adorn his Herse.
And this my Grief, without thy help, shall write.

Had I a wreath of Bays about my brow,
I should contemn that flourishing honor now;
Condemn it to the Fire, and joy to hear
It rage and crackle there.
Instead of Bays, crown with sad Cypress me;
Cypress which Tombs does beautifie;
Not Phoebus grieved so much as I
For him, who first was made that mournful Tree.

Large was his soul: as large a soul as e'er
Submitted to inform a body here;
High as the place 'twas shortly in Heaven to have,
But low and humble as his grave.
So high that all the virtues there did come,
As to their chiefest seat
Conspicuous and great;
So low, that for me too it made a room.

He scorn'd this busie world below, and all
That we, Mistaken Mortals, Pleasure call;
Was fill'd with innocent Gallantry and Truth,
Triumphant ore the sins of Youth.
He likes the Stars, to which he now is gone,
That shine with beams like Flame,
Yet burn not with the same,
Had all the Light of Youth, of the Fire none.

Knowledge he only sought, and so soon caught
As if for him Knowledge had rather sought;
Nor did more learning ever crowded lie
In such a short mortality.
Whene'er the skilful youth discoursed or writ,
Still did the notions throng
About his eloquent tongue;
Nor could his ink flow faster than his wit.

So strong a Wit did Nature to him frame,
As all things but his Judgement overcame;
His Judgement like the heavenly Moon did show,
Temp'ring that mighty Sea below.
Oh had he lived in Learning's World, what bound
Would have been able to controul
His over-powering Soul?
We have lost in him Arts that not yet are found.

His mirth was the pure spirits of various wit,
Yet never did his God or friends forget;
And when deep talk and wisdom came in view,
Retired, and gave to them their due.
For the rich help of books he always took,
Though his own searching mind before
Was so with notions written o'er,
As if wise Nature had made that her book.

So many Virtues joyn'd in him, as we
Can sarce pick here and there in Historie.
More then old Writers' Practice' ere could reach,
As much as they could ever teach.
These did Religion, Queen of Virtues, sway,
And all their sacred Motions steare;
Just like the First and Highest Sphere
Which wheels about, and turns all Heaven one way.

With as much zeal, devotion, piety,
He always lived, as other saints do die.
Still with his soul severe account he kept,
Weeping all debts out ere he slept.
Then down in peace and innocence he lay,
Like the Sun's laborious light,
Which still in water sets at night,
Unsullied with his journey of the day.

Wondrous young Man, why wert thou made so good,
To be snatcht hence ere better understood?
Snatcht before half of Thee enough was seen!
Thou Ripe, and yet thy Life but Green!
Nor could thy Friends take their last sad Farewell,
But Danger and Infectious Death
Maliciously seiz'd on that Breath
Where Life, Spirit, Pleasure always us'd to dwell.

But happy Thou, ta'en from this frantic age,
Where ignorance and hypocrisy does rage!
A fitter time for Heaven no soul e'er chose --
The place now only free from those.
There 'mong the blest thou dost for ever shine;
And wheresoe'er thou casts thy view
Upon that white and radiant crew,
See'st not a soul clothed with more light than thine.

And if the glorious Saints cease not to know
Their wretched Friends who fight with Life below;
Thy flame to Me does still the same abide,
Onely more pure and rarifyed.
There whilst immortal Hymns thou dost reherse,
Thous dost with holy pity see
Our dull and earthly Posie,
Where Grief and Misery can be joyn'd with Verse.

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