Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ELEGY ON MR. WILLIAM HOPTON, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)



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AN ELEGY ON MR. WILLIAM HOPTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When shall mine eyes be dry? I daily see
Last Line: More than a tomb, although a pyramis.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Hopton, William (d. 1591)


WHEN shall mine eyes be dry? I daily see
Projects on foot; and some have fall'n on me:
Yet (with my fortune) had they ta'en away
The sense I have to see a friend turn clay;
They had done something worth the name of spite;
And (as the grim and ugly veil of night,
Which hides both good and bad) their malice then
Had made me worthless more the love of men
Than are their manners. I had died with those,
Who once entomb'd shall scarce be read in prose:
But whilst I have a tear to shed for thee,
A star shall drop, and yet neglected be.
For as a thrifty pismire from the plain,
Busily dragging home some little grain,
Is in the midway to her pretty chamber
Fatally wept on by some drop of amber,
Which straight congeal'd (to recompense her doom)
The instrument to kill becomes her tomb;
And such a one that she may well compare
With Egypt's monarchs for a sepulchre.
So as I homewards wend to meet with dust,
Bearing this grief along, and it is just,
Each eye that knew, and knowing held thee dear,
On these sad lines shall shed so true a tear:
It shall beget a second: that, a third:
And propagate so many, that the bird
Of Araby shall lack a sun to burn her,
Ere I shall want a tomb, or thou a mourner.
For in those tears we will embalmed be,
And prove such remoras to memory,
That some malicious at our fame grown sick
Shall die, and have their dust made into brick;
And only serve to stop some prison's holes,
That hides as wretched bodies as their souls.
When (though the earth benight us at our noon,)
We there will lie like shadows in the moon;
And every dust within our graves shall be
A star to light us to posterity.
But (hapless Muse), admit that this may come,
And men may read I wept upon his tomb;
What comfort brings it me? Princes have tried
To keep their names, yet scarce are known they died,
So weak is brass and marble; and I pierce
His memory, while that I write this verse;
Since I (his living monument) indite
And moulder into dust the while I write.
Such is the grief thy loss hath brought on me,
I cut some life off in each line on thee:
The cold stone that lies on thee I survey,
And, looking on it, feel myself turn clay;
Yet grieve not but to think, when I am gone,
The marble will shed tears, when I shed none.
This vexeth me, that a dead stone shall be
My rival in thy loss and memory;
That it should both outweep me and rehearse,
When I am dust, thy glory in my verse.
And much good may it do thee, thou dead stone,
Though not so dead as he thou liest upon.
Thou may'st instruct some after-age to say
This was the last bed whereon Hopton lay;
Hopton, that knew to choose and keep a friend:
That scorn'd as much to flatter as offend:
That had a soul as perfect as each limb,
That serv'd learn'd Pembroke, and did merit him:
And to name Hopton with his master is
More than a tomb, although a pyramis.





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