Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LEGACY, by HENRY KING (1592-1669)



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THE LEGACY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My dearest love! When thou and I must part
Last Line: Am both testator thus and legacy.
Subject(s): Love


My dearest Love! when thou and I must part,
And th' icy hand of death shall seize that heart
Which is all thine; within some spacious will
I'll leave no blanks for legacies to fill:
'Tis my ambition to die one of those,
Who, but himself, hath nothing to dispose.

And since that is already thine, what need
I to re-give it by some newer deed?
Yet take it once again. Free circumstance
Does oft the value of mean things advance:
Who thus repeats what he bequeath'd before,
Proclaims his bounty richer than his store.

But let me not upon my love bestow
What is not worth the giving. I do owe
Somewhat to dust: my body's pamper'd care,
Hungry corruption and the worm will share.
That mould'ring relic which in earth must lie,
Would prove a gift of horror to thine eye.

With this cast rag of my mortality,
Let all my faults and errors buried be.
And as my cere-cloth rots, so may kind fate
Those worst acts of my life incinerate.
He shall in story fill a glorious room,
Whose ashes and whose sins sleep in one tomb.

If now to my cold hearse thou deign to bring
Some melting sighs as thy last offering,
My peaceful exequies are crown'd. Nor shall
I ask more honour at my funeral.
Thou wilt more richly balm me with thy tears,
Than all the nard fragrant Arabia bears.

And as the Paphian Queen by her grief's show'r
Brought up her dead Love's spirit in a flow'r:
So by those precious drops rain'd from thine eyes,
Out of my dust, O may some virtue rise!
And like thy better Genius thee attend,
Till thou in my dark period shalt end.

Lastly, my constant truth let me commend
To him thou choosest next to be thy friend.
For (witness all things good) I would not have
Thy youth and beauty married to my grave,
'Twould show thou didst repent the style of wife,
Shouldst thou relapse into a single life.

They with preposterous grief the world delude,
Who mourn for their lost mates in solitude;
Since widowhood more strongly doth enforce
The much lamented lot of their divorce.
Themselves then of their losses guilty are,
Who may, yet will not, suffer a repair.

Those were barbarian wives, that did invent
Weeping to death at th' husband's monument;
But in more civil rites she doth approve
Her first, who ventures on a second love;
For else it may be thought, if she refrain,
She sped so ill, she durst not try again.

Up then, my Love, and choose some worthier one,
Who may supply my room when I am gone;
So will the stock of our affection thrive
No less in death, than were I still alive.
And in my urn I shall rejoice, that I
Am both testator thus and legacy.





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