Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, UPON THE KING'S SICKNESS, by THOMAS CAREW



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UPON THE KING'S SICKNESS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sickness, the minister of death, doth lay
Last Line: Shows a good king is sick, and good men mourn.
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Sickness; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; Illness


SICKNESS, the minister of Death, doth lay
So strong a siege against our brittle clay,
As, whilst it doth our weak forts singly win,
It hopes at length to take all mankind in.
First, it begins upon the womb to wait,
And doth the unborn child there uncreate;
Then rocks the cradle where the infant lies,
Where, ere it fully be alive, it dies.
It never leaves fond youth, until it have
Found or an early or a later grave.
By thousand subtle sleights from heedless man
It cuts the short allowance of a span;
And where both sober life and art combine
To keep it out, age makes them both resign.
Thus, by degrees, it only gain'd of late
The weak, the aged, or intemperate.
But now the tyrant hath found out a way
By which the sober, strong, and young decay;
Ent'ring his royal limbs that is our head,
Through us, his mystic limbs, the pain is spread;
That man that doth not feel his part hath none
In any part of his dominion;
If he hold land, that earth is forfeited,
And he unfit on any ground to tread.
This grief is felt at Court, where it doth move
Through every joint, like the true soul of love.
All those fair stars that do attend on him,
Whence they deriv'd their light, wax pale and dim.
That ruddy morning beam of majesty,
Which should the sun's eclipsed light supply,
Is overcast with mists, and in the lieu
Of cheerful rays sends us down drops of dew.
That curious form, made of an earth refin'd,
At whose blest birth the gentle planets shin'd
With fair aspects, and sent a glorious flame
To animate so beautiful a frame,
That darling of the gods and men doth wear
A cloud on 's brow, and in his eye a tear.
And all the rest, save when his dread command
Doth bid them move, like lifeless statues stand.
So full a grief, so generally worn,
Shows a good king is sick, and good men mourn.





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