Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ELEGY UPON PRINCE HENRY'S DEATH (DIED NOV. 6, 1612), by HENRY KING (1592-1669)



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AN ELEGY UPON PRINCE HENRY'S DEATH (DIED NOV. 6, 1612), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Keep station, nature, and rest, heaven sure
Last Line: And glory of our day set in his night.


KEEP station, Nature, and rest, Heaven, sure
On thy supporters' shoulders, lest, past cure,
Thou dash'd in ruin fall, by a grief's weight
Will make thy basis shrink, and lay thy height
Low as the centre. Hark! and feel it read
Through the astonish'd Kingdom, Henry's dead.
It is enough; who seeks to aggravate
One strain beyond this, prove[s] more sharp his fate
Than sad our doom. The world dares not survive
To parallel this woe's superlative.
O killing Rhetoric of Death! two words
Breathe stronger terrors than plague, fire, or swords
Ere conquer'd. This were epitaph and verse,
Worthy to be prefix'd in Nature's hearse,
Or Earth's sad dissolution; whose fall
Will be less grievous, though more general:
For all the woe ruin e'er buried
Sounds in these fatal accents, Henry's dead.
Cease then, unable Poetry; thy phrase
Is weak and dull to strike us with amaze
Worthy thy vaster subject. Let none dare
To copy this sad hap, but with despair
Hanging at his quill's point. For not a stream
Of ink can write, much less improve, this theme.
Invention highest wrought by grief or wit
Must sink with him, and on his tombstone split;
Who, like the dying Sun, tells us the light
And glory of our Day set in his Night.





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