Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON AN INFANT UNBORN, AND THE MOTHER DYING IN TRAVAIL, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: Within this grave there is a grave entomb'd
Last Line: And keeps in travail till the day of doom.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Stillbirth; Death - Childbirth

WITHIN this grave there is a grave entomb'd:
Here lies a mother and a child enwomb'd;
'Twas strange that Nature so much vigour gave
'To one that ne'er was born to make a grave.
Yet, an injunction stranger, Nature will'd her,
Poor mother, to be tomb to that which kill'd her;
And not with so much cruelty content,
Buries the child, the grave, and monument.
Where shall we write the epitaph? whereon?
The child, the grave, the monument is gone;
Or if upon the child we write a staff,
Where shall we cut the tomb's own epitaph?
Only this way is left; and now we must,
As on a table carpeted with dust,
Make chisels of our fingers, and engrave
An epitaph both on the child and grave
Within the dust: but when some days are gone,
Will not that epitaph have need of one?
I know it will; yet grave it there so deep,
That those which knew the loss, and truly weep,
May shed their tears so justly in that place,
Which we before did with a finger trace,
That filling up the letters, they shall lie
As inlaid crystal to posterity:
Where, as on glass, if any write another,
Let him say thus: Here lies a hapless mother,
Whom cruel fate hath made to be a tomb,
And keeps in travail till the Day of Doom.

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