Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
April 23
An Epitaph on the Admirable Dramatic Poet, W. Shakespeare
By John Milton (1608–1674)
 
          Born at Stratford-on-Avon, April 23, 1564. Died there April 23, 1616.

WHAT needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones—
The labor of an age in piled stones?
Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid
Under a starry-pointing pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,        5
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a live-long monument.
 
For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavoring art
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart        10
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And, so sepulchred, in such pomp dost lie        15
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
 
 
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