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Francis Beaumont

(1584 – 6 March 1616 / Leicestershire)

On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey


MORTALITY, behold and fear!
What a change of flesh is here!
Think how many royal bones
Sleep within this heap of stones:
Here they lie had realms and lands,
Who now want strength to stir their hands:
Where from their pulpits seal'd with dust
They preach, 'In greatness is no trust.'
Here 's an acre sown indeed
With the richest, royall'st seed
That the earth did e'er suck in
Since the first man died for sin:
Here the bones of birth have cried--
'Though gods they were, as men they died.'
Here are sands, ignoble things,
Dropt from the ruin'd sides of kings;
Here 's a world of pomp and state,
Buried in dust, once dead by fate.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003
Edited: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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  • Rookie Winifred Adams (5/26/2008 7:21:00 AM)

    This poem has been a favourite of mine since I was a child, and it appears unfinished here, or at least a much shortened version, and because of that the whole meaning of the poem is lost. The copy I have states that the author is not confirmed, and could have been written either by Francis Beaumont or W.Basse 1602. The copy I have is..
    On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey
    (A Memento For Mortality)

    MORTALITY, behold and fear!
    What a change of flesh is here!
    Think how many royal bones
    Sleep within this heap of stones:
    Hence removed from beds of ease,
    Dainty fare, and what might please.
    Fretted roofs, and costly shows
    To a roof that flats the nose.
    Which proclaims alol flesh is grass,
    Hoe the world's fair glories pass;
    That there is no trust in health,
    In youth, in age, in greatness, wealth;
    For if such could have reprieved
    Those had been immortal lived.
    Know from this, the world's a snare
    How that greatness is but care,
    How all pleasures are but pain
    And how short they do remain.
    For here they lie had realms and lands,
    Who now want strength to stir their hands:
    Where from their pulpits seal'd with dust
    They preach, 'In greatness is no trust.'
    Here 's an acre sown indeed
    With the richest, royall'st seed
    That the earth did e'er suck in
    Since the first man died for sin:
    Here the bones of birth have cried-
    'Though gods they were, as men they died.'
    Here are sands, ignoble things,
    Dropt from the ruin'd sides of kings;
    With whom the poor man's earth being shown,
    The difference is not easily known.
    Here 's a world of pomp and state,
    Forgotten, dead, disconsolate.
    Think then, this scythe that mows down Kings,
    Exempts no meaner mortal things.
    Then bid the wanton lady tread
    Amid these mazes of the dead,
    And these truly understood,
    More shall cool and quench the blood,
    Than her many sports a-day.
    Bid her paint till day of doom
    To this favour she must come.
    Bid the merchant gather wealth,
    The ursurer exact by stealth,
    The proud man beat it from his thought,
    Yet to this shape all must be brought. (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

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