Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ELEGY UPON MRS. KIRK, UNFORTUNATELY DROWNED IN THAMES, by HENRY KING (1592-1669)



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AN ELEGY UPON MRS. KIRK, UNFORTUNATELY DROWNED IN THAMES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: For all the shipwracks, and the liquid graves
Last Line: Return'd a venus back to thee again.
Subject(s): Disasters; Drowning; Shipwrecks


FOR all the shipwracks, and the liquid graves
Lost men have gain'd within the furrow'd waves,
The Sea hath fin'd, and for our wrongs paid use,
When its wrought foam a Venus did produce.

But what repair wilt thou, unhappy Thames,
Afford our loss? thy dull unactive streams
Can no new beauty raise, nor yet restore
Her who by thee was ravish'd from our shore:
Whose death hath stain'd the glory of thy flood,
And mix'd the guilty channel with her blood.

O Neptune! was thy favour only writ
In that loose element where thou dost sit?
That, after all this time, thou shouldst repent
Thy fairest blessing to the continent?
Say, what could urge this Fate? is Thetis dead,
Or Amphitrite from thy wet arms fled?
Wast thou so poor in Nymphs, that thy moist love
Must be maintain'd with pensions from above?
If none of these, but that, whilst thou didst sleep
Upon thy sandy pillow in the deep,
This mischief stole upon us; may our grief
Waken thy just revenge on that sly thief,
Who, in thy fluid empire, without leave,
And unsuspected, durst her life bereave.
Henceforth, invert thy order, and provide
In gentlest floods a pilot for our guide.
Let rugged seas be lov'd, but the brook's smile
Shunn'd like the courtship of a crocodile;
And where the current doth most smoothly pass,
Think for her sake, that stream Death's looking glass,
To show us our destruction is most near,
When pleasure hath begot least sense of fear.

Else break thy forked sceptre 'gainst some rock,
If thou endure a flatt'ring calm to mock
Thy far-fam'd pow'r, and violate that law
Which keeps the angry Ocean in awe.
Thy trident will grow useless, which doth still
Wild tempests, if thou let tame rivers kill.

Meantime, we owe thee nothing. Our first debt
Lies cancell'd in thy wat'ry cabinet.
We have for Her thou sent'st us from the main,
Return'd a Venus back to thee again.





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