Verse > Anthologies > Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. > Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th c.
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Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. (1886–1960). Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C.  1921.
 
Henry King
 
142. The Exequy
 
ACCEPT thou Shrine of my dead Saint, 
Instead of Dirges this complaint; 
And for sweet flowres to crown thy hearse, 
Receive a strew of weeping verse 
From thy griev'd friend, whom thou might'st see         5
Quite melted into tears for thee. 
  
  Dear loss! since thy untimely fate 
My task hath been to meditate 
On thee, on thee: thou art the book, 
The library whereon I look  10
Though almost blind. For thee (lov'd clay) 
I languish out not live the day, 
Using no other exercise 
But what I practise with mine eyes: 
By which wet glasses I find out  15
How lazily time creeps about 
To one that mourns: this, onely this 
My exercise and bus'ness is: 
So I compute the weary houres 
With sighs dissolved into showres.  20
  
  Nor wonder if my time go thus 
Backward and most preposterous; 
Thou hast benighted me, thy set 
This Eve of blackness did beget, 
Who was't my day, (though overcast  25
Before thou had'st thy Noon-tide past) 
And I remember must in tears, 
Thou scarce had'st seen so many years 
As Day tells houres. By thy cleer Sun 
My love and fortune first did run;  30
But thou wilt never more appear 
Folded within my Hemisphear, 
Since both thy light and motion 
Like a fled Star is fall'n and gon, 
And twixt me and my soules dear wish  35
The earth now interposed is, 
Which such a strange eclipse doth make 
As ne're was read in Almanake. 
  
  I could allow thee for a time 
To darken me and my sad Clime,  40
Were it a month, a year, or ten, 
I would thy exile live till then; 
And all that space my mirth adjourn, 
So thou wouldst promise to return; 
And putting off thy ashy shrowd  45
At length disperse this sorrows cloud. 
  
  But woe is me! the longest date 
Too narrow is to calculate 
These empty hopes: never shall I 
Be so much blest as to descry  50
A glimpse of thee, till that day come 
Which shall the earth to cinders doome, 
And a fierce Feaver must calcine 
The body of this world like thine, 
(My Little World!) that fit of fire  55
Once off, our bodies shall aspire 
To our soules bliss: then we shall rise, 
And view our selves with cleerer eyes 
In that calm Region, where no night 
Can hide us from each others sight.  60
  
  Mean time, thou hast her earth: much good 
May my harm do thee. Since it stood 
With Heavens will I might not call 
Her longer mine, I give thee all 
My short-liv'd right and interest  65
In her, whom living I lov'd best: 
With a most free and bounteous grief, 
I give thee what I could not keep. 
Be kind to her, and prethee look 
Thou write into thy Dooms-day book  70
Each parcell of this Rarity 
Which in thy Casket shrin'd doth ly: 
See that thou make thy reck'ning streight, 
And yield her back again by weight; 
For thou must audit on thy trust  75
Each graine and atome of this dust, 
As thou wilt answer Him that lent, 
Not gave thee my dear Monument. 
  
  So close the ground, and 'bout her shade 
Black curtains draw, my Bride is laid.  80
  
  Sleep on my Love in thy cold bed 
Never to be disquieted! 
My last good night! Thou wilt not wake 
Till I thy fate shall overtake: 
Till age, or grief, or sickness, must  85
Marry my body to that dust 
It so much loves; and fill the room 
My heart keeps empty in thy Tomb. 
Stay for me there; I will not faile 
To meet thee in that hollow Vale.  90
And think not much of my delay; 
I am already on the way, 
And follow thee with all the speed 
Desire can make, or sorrows breed. 
Each minute is a short degree,  95
And ev'ry houre a step towards thee. 
At night when I betake to rest, 
Next morn I rise neerer my West 
Of life, almost by eight houres saile, 
Then when sleep breath'd his drowsie gale. 100
  
  Thus from the Sun my Bottom stears, 
And my dayes Compass downward bears: 
Nor labour I to stemme the tide 
Through which to Thee I swiftly glide. 
  
  'Tis true, with shame and grief I yield, 105
Thou like the Vann first took'st the field, 
And gotten hast the victory 
In thus adventuring to dy 
Before me, whose more years might crave 
A just precedence in the grave. 110
But heark! My Pulse like a soft Drum 
Beats my approach, tells Thee I come; 
And slow howere my marches be, 
I shall at last sit down by Thee. 
  
  The thought of this bids me go on, 115
And wait my dissolution 
With hope and comfort. Dear (forgive 
The crime) I am content to live 
Divided, with but half a heart, 
Till we shall meet and never part. 120
 
 
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