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Edward Herbert

(3 March 1583 – 20 August 1648 / England)

Elegy over a Tomb


Must I then see, alas, eternal night
Sitting upon those fairest eyes,
And closing all those beams, which once did rise
So radiant and bright
That light and heat in them to us did prove
Knowledge and love?

Oh, if you did delight no more to stay
Upon this low and earthly stage,
But rather chose an endless heritage,
Tell us at least, we pray,
Where all the beauties that those ashes ow'd
Are now bestow'd.

Doth the sun now his light with yours renew?
Have waves the curling of your hair?
Did you restore unto the sky and air
The red, and white, and blue?
Have you vouchsaf'd to flowers since your death
That sweetest breath?

Had not heav'n's lights else in their houses slept,
Or to some private life retir'd?
Must not the sky and air have else conspir'd,
And in their regions wept?
Must not each flower else the earth could breed,
Have been a weed?

But thus enrich'd may we not yield some cause
Why they themselves lament no more?
That must have chang'd the course they held before,
And broke their proper laws,
Had not your beauties giv'n this second birth
To heaven and earth.

Tell us (for oracles must still ascend
For those that crave them at your tom ,
Tell us where are those beauties now become,
And what they now intend;
Tell us, alas, that cannot tell our grief,
Or hope relief.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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