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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: Her tongue hath ceast to speak, which might make dumb
Last Line: In love and comfort, so is he now in grief.
Alternate Author Name(s): William Boxworth
Subject(s): Love; Death; Dead, The

HER tongue hath ceast to speak, which might make dumb
All tongues, might stay all pens, all hands benumb;
Yet must I write; O that it might have been
While she had liv'd, and had my verses seen,
Before sad cries deaf'd my untuned ears,
When verses flow'd more easily than tears.
Ah, why neglected I to write her praise,
And paint her virtues in those happy days!
Then my now trembling hand and dazzled eye
Had seldom fail'd, having the pattern by;
Or had it err'd, or made some strokes amiss,
(For who can portray virtue as it is?)
Art might with Nature have maintain'd her strife,
By curious lines to imitate true life.
But now those pictures want their lively grace,
As after death none well can draw the face:
We let our friends pass idly like our time,
Till they be gone, and then we see our crime,
And think what worth in them might have been known,
What duties done, and what affection shown:
Untimely knowledge, which so dear doth cost,
And then begins when the thing known is lost;
Yet this cold love, this envy, this neglect,
Proclaims us modest, while our due respect
To goodness is restrain'd by servile fear,
Lest to the world it flatt'ry should appear:
As if the present hours deserv'd no praise:
But age is past, whose knowledge only stays
On that weak prop which memory sustains,
Should be the proper subject of our strains:
Or as if foolish men, asham'd to sing
Of violets and roses in the Spring,
Should tarry till the flow'rs were blown away,
And till the Muse's life and heat decay;
Then is the fury slack'd, the vigour fled,
As here in mine, since it with her was dead:
Which still may sparkle, but shall flame no more,
Because no time shall her to us restore:
Yet may these sparks, thus kindled with her fame,
Shine brighter, and live longer than some flame.
Here expectation urgeth me to tell
Her high perfections, which the world knew well.
But they are far beyond my skill t' unfold,
They were poor virtues if they might be told.
But thou, who fain wouldst take a gen'ral view
Of timely fruits which in this garden grew,
On all the virtues in men's actions look,
Or read their names writ in some moral book;
And sum the number which thou there shalt find:
So many liv'd, and triumph'd in her mind.
Nor dwelt these graces in a house obscure,
But in a palace fair, which might allure
The wretch, who no respect to virtue bore,
To love it, for the garments which it wore.
So that in her the body and the soul
Contended, which should most adorn the whole.
O happy soul, for such a body meet,
How are the firm chains of that union sweet
Dissever'd in the twinkling of an eye?
And we amaz'd dare ask no reason why,
But silent think, that God is pleas'd to show
That he hath works, whose ends we cannot know:
Let us then cease to make a vain request,
To learn why die the fairest, why the best;
For all these things, which mortals hold most dear,
Most slipp'ry are, and yield less joy than fear;
And being lifted high by men's desire,
Are more propitious marks for heav'nly fire;
And are laid prostrate with the first assault,
Because our love makes their desert their fault.
Then justice us to some amends should move
For this our fruitless, nay our hurtful love;
We in their honour piles of stone erect
With their dear names, and worthy praises deckt:
But since those fail, their glories we rehearse
In better marble, everlasting verse:
By which we gather from consuming hours
Some parts of them, though time the rest devours;
Then if the Muses can forbid to die,
As we their priests suppose, why may not I?
Although the least and hoarsest in the quire,
Clear beams of blessed immortality inspire
To keep thy blest remembrance ever young,
Still to be freshly in all ages sung:
Or if my work in this unable be,
Yet shall it ever live, upheld by thee:
For thou shalt live, though poems should decay,
Since parents teach their sons thy praise to say;
And to posterity, from hand to hand
Convey it with their blessing and their land.
Thy quiet rest from death this good derives,
Instead of one, it gives thee many lives:
While these lines last, thy shadow dwelleth here,
Thy fame, itself extendeth ev'rywhere;
In Heav'n our hopes have plac'd thy better part:
Thine image lives, in thy sad husband's heart:
Who as when he enjoy'd thee, he was chief
In love and comfort, so is he now in grief.

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