Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OBSEQUIES TO THE LADY ANNE HAY, by THOMAS CAREW

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OBSEQUIES TO THE LADY ANNE HAY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I heard the virgins sigh, I saw the sleek
Last Line: Thus even by rivals to be deifi'd.

I HEARD the virgins sigh, I saw the sleek
And polish'd courtier channel his fresh cheek
With real tears; the new-betrothed maid
Smil'd not that day; the graver Senate laid
Their business by: of all the courtly throng
Grief seal'd the heart, and silence bound the tongue.
I, that ne'er more of private sorrow knew
Than from my pen some froward mistress drew,
And for the public woe had my dull sense
So sear'd with ever-adverse influence,
As the invader's sword might have, unfelt,
Pierc'd my dead bosom, yet began to melt:
Grief's strong instinct did to my blood suggest
In the unknown loss peculiar interest.
But when I heard the noble Carlisle's gem,
The fairest branch of Denny's ancient stem,
Was from that casket stol'n, from this trunk torn,
I found just cause why they, why I, should mourn.
But who shall guide my artless pen to draw
Those blooming beauties, which I never saw?
How shall posterity believe my story,
If I her crowded graces, and the glory
Due to her riper virtues, shall relate
Without the knowledge of her mortal state?
Shall I (as once Apelles) here a feature,
There steal a grace, and rifling so whole Nature
Of all the sweets a learned eye can see,
Figure one Venus, and say, Such was she?
Shall I her legend fill with what of old
Hath of the worthies of her sex been told;
And what all pens and times to all dispense,
Restrain to her, by a prophetic sense?
Or shall I, to the moral and divine
Exactest laws, shape, by an even line,
A life so straight, as it should shame the square
Left in the rules of Catherine or Clare,
And call it hers? say, So did she begin,
And, had she liv'd, such had her progress been?
These are dull ways, by which base pens for hire
Daub glorious vice, and from Apollo's choir
Steal holy ditties, which profanely they
Upon the hearse of every strumpet lay.
We will not bathe thy corpse with a forc'd tear,
Nor shall thy train borrow the blacks they wear;
Such vulgar spice and gums embalm not thee,
Thou art the theme of truth, not poetry.
Thou shalt endure a trial by thy peers:
Virgins of equal birth, of equal years,
Whose virtues held with thine an emulous strife,
Shall draw thy picture, and record thy life.
One shall ensphere thine eyes; another shall
Impearl thy teeth; a third, thy white and small
Hand shall besnow; a fourth, incarnadine
Thy rosy cheek: until each beauteous line,
Drawn by her hand in whom that part excels,
Meet in one centre, where all beauty dwells.
Others, in task, shall thy choice virtues share,
Some shall their birth, some their ripe growth declare;
Though niggard Time left much unhatch'd by deeds,
They shall relate how thou hadst all the seeds
Of every virtue, which, in the pursuit
Of time, must have brought forth admired fruit.
Thus shalt thou, from the mouth of envy, raise
A glorious journal of thy thrifty days:
Like a bright star shot from his sphere, whose race
In a continu'd line of flames we trace.
This, if survey'd, shall to thy view impart
How little more than late thou wert, thou art.
This shall gain credit with succeeding times,
When, nor by bribed pens, nor partial rhymes
Of engag'd kindred, but the sacred truth
Is stori'd by the partners of thy youth:
Their breath shall saint thee, and be this thy pride,
Thus even by rivals to be deifi'd.

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