Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE DEATH OF MR RANDOLPH, by R. GOSTELOW



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ON THE DEATH OF MR RANDOLPH, by            
First Line: When donne and beaumont died, an epitaph
Last Line: Since wit's decay, or randolph's death -- so long.
Alternate Author Name(s): Feltham, Owen
Subject(s): Death; Randolph, Thomas (1605-1634); Dead, The


WHEN Donne and Beaumont died, an epitaph
Some men (I well remember) thought unsafe,
And said they did presume to write, unless
They could their tears in their expression dress.
But love makes me more bold, and tells me I
In humble terms to vent my piety
May safely dare; and reason thinks not fit,
For which I lov'd, I now should fear that wit.
Respect looks like a bargain, if confin'd
To rules precise, and is more just than kind,
If by a pois'd and equal testament
It turns goodwill into a covenant.
Must every present offer'd to a prince
Be just proportion'd to his eminence?
Or ought my elegy unjust be thought,
Because I cannot mourn thee as I ought?
Such laws as these (if any be so bold),
Ought those unskilful but proud souls to hold,
Who think they could and did at a due rate
Love thee, not me, whose love was passionate,
And hath decreed, howe'er the censure go,
Thus much, although but thus, to let men know,
I do admire no comet did presage
The mournful period of thy wonder'd age;
Or that no Sybil did thy death foretell,
Since that by it alone more ill befell
The laurel god, than when the day was come,
Wherein his Delphic oracle was dumb.
In meaner wits that proverb chance may hold
(That they who are soon ripe are seldom old),
But 'twas a poor one, and for thee unfit,
Whose infancy might teach their best years wit:
Whose talk was exemplary to their pains,
And whose discourse was tutor to their strains.
If thou wert serious, then the audience
Heard Plato's works in Tully's eloquence:
If sad, the mourners knew no thrifty sighs
In tears, but still cried out: O, lend more eyes!
If merry, then the juice of comedy
So sweeten'd every word, that we might see
Each stander-by having enough to do
To temper mirth, until some friend could woo
Thee take the pains to write, that so, that pressure
Checking thy soul's quick motions, some small leisure
Might be obtain'd to make provision
Of breath against the next scene's action.
I could go through thy works, which will survive
The funeral of time, and gladly strive
Beyond my power to make that love appear
Which after death is best seen in a tear.
But praising one, I should dispraise the rest,
Since whatsoe'er thou didst was still the best.
Since then I am persuaded that in thee
Wit at her acme was, and we shall see
Posterity not daring to aspire
To equalise, but only to admire
Thee as their archtype: with thought of thee
Henceforth I'll thus enrich my memory!
While others count from earthquakes and great frost,
And say, i' th' last dear year, 'twould thus much cost;
My time-distinctions this shall be among,
Since wit's decay, or Randolph's death -- so long.





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