John Milton

(9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674 / London, England)

An Epitaph On The Marchioness Of Winchester


This rich Marble doth enterr
The honour'd Wife of Winchester,
A Vicounts daughter, an Earls heir,
Besides what her vertues fair
Added to her noble birth,
More then she could own from Earth.
Summers three times eight save one
She had told, alas too soon,
After so short time of breath,
To house with darknes, and with death.
Yet had the number of her days
Bin as compleat as was her praise,
Nature and fate had had no strife
In giving limit to her life.
Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
Quickly found a lover meet;
The Virgin quire for her request
The God that sits at marriage feast;
He at their invoking came
But with a scarce-wel-lighted flame;
And in his Garland as he stood,
Ye might discern a Cipress bud.
Once had the early Matrons run
To greet her of a lovely son,
And now with second hope she goes,
And calls Lucina to her throws;
But whether by mischance or blame
Atropos for Lucina came;
And with remorsles cruelty,
Spoil'd at once both fruit and tree:
The haples Babe before his birth
Had burial, yet not laid in earth,
And the languisht Mothers Womb
Was not long a living Tomb.
So have I seen som tender slip
Sav'd with care from Winters nip,
The pride of her carnation train,
Pluck't up by som unheedy swain,
Who onely thought to crop the flowr
New shot up from vernall showr;
But the fair blossom hangs the head
Side-ways as on a dying bed,
And those Pearls of dew she wears,
Prove to be presaging tears
Which the sad morn had let fall
On her hast'ning funerall.
Gentle Lady may thy grave
Peace and quiet ever have;
After this thy travail sore
Sweet rest sease thee evermore,
That to give the world encrease,
Shortned hast thy own lives lease;
Here besides the sorrowing
That thy noble House doth bring,
Here be tears of perfect moan
Weept for thee in Helicon,
And som Flowers, and som Bays,
For thy Hears to strew the ways,
Sent thee from the banks of Came,
Devoted to thy vertuous name;
Whilst thou bright Saint high sit'st in glory,
Next her much like to thee in story,
That fair Syrian Shepherdess,
Who after yeers of barrennes,
The highly favour'd Joseph bore
To him that serv'd for her before,
And at her next birth much like thee,
Through pangs fled to felicity,
Far within the boosom bright
of blazing Majesty and Light,
There with thee, new welcom Saint,
Like fortunes may her soul acquaint,
With thee there clad in radiant sheen,
No Marchioness, but now a Queen.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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