Henry King (16 January 1592 – 30 September 1669 / Worminghall, Buckinghamshire)
AN ELEGY Upon my Best Friend L. K. C.
Should we our Sorrows in this Method range,
Oft as Misfortune doth their Subjects change,
And to the sev'ral Losses which befall,
Pay diff'rent Rites at ev'ry Funeral;
Like narrow Springs drain'd by dispersed Streams,
We must want Tears to wail such various Themes,
And prove defective in Deaths mournfull Laws,
Not having Words proportion'd to each Cause.
In your Dear loss my much afflicted Sense,
Discerns this Truth by sad experience,
Who never Look'd my Verses should survive,
As wet Records, That you are not Alive;
And less desir'd to make that Promise due,
Which pass'd from Me in jest, when urg'd by You.
How close and slily doth our Frailty work!
How undiscover'd in the Body lurk!
That Those who this Day did salute you well,
Before the Next were frighted by your Knell.
O wherefore since we must in Order rise,
Should we not Fall in equal Obsequies?
But bear th' Assaults of an uneven Fate,
Like Feavers which their Hour anticipate;
Had this Rule constant been, my long wish'd End
Might render you a Mourner for your Friend:
As He for you, whose most deplor'd surprise
Imprints your Death on all my Faculties;
That hardly my dark Phant'sie or Discourse,
This final Duty from the Pen inforce:
Such Influence hath your Eclipsed Light,
It doth my Reason like my Self benight.
Let me, with Luckless Gamesters, then think best
(After I have Set up and Lost my Rest,)
Grow'n desp'rate through mischance, to Venture last
My whole remaining Stock upon a Cast,
And flinging from me my now Loathed Pen,
Resolve for your Sake nev'r to Write agen:
For whilst Successive days their Light renew,
I must no Subject hope to Equal you,
In whose Heroick Brest as in their Sphear,
All Graces of your Sex concentred were.
Thus take I my long Farewell of that Art,
Fit only glorious Actions to impart;
That Art wherewith our Crosses we beguile,
And make them in Harmonious numbers smile:
Since you are gone, This holds no further use,
Whose Virtue and Desert inspir'd my Muse.
O may She in your Ashes Buried be,
Whilst I my Self become the Elegie.
And as it is observ'd when Princes Dye,
In honour of that sad Solemnity,
The now unoffic'd Servants crack their Staves,
And throw them down into their Masters Graves:
So this last Office of my broken Verse,
I solemnly resign upon your Hearse;
And my Brains moisture, all that is unspent,
Shall melt to nothing at the Monument.
Thus in moist Weather when the Marble weeps,
You'l think it only his Tears reck'ning keeps,
Who doth for ever to his Thoughts bequeath
The Legacy of your lamented Death.
Comments about this poem (AN ELEGY Upon my Best Friend L. K. C. by Henry King )
Top 500 Poems
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Still I Rise
Edgar Allan Poe
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
William Ernest Henley