Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Epitaph on Elizabeth L. H.
By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
 
WOULD’ST 1 thou hear what man can say
In a little? Reader, stay.
Underneath this stone doth lie
As much beauty as could die;
Which in life did harbour give        5
To more virtue than doth live.
If at all she had a fault
Leave it buried in this vault.
One name was Elizabeth,
The other, let it sleep with death,        10
Fitter, where it died, to tell,
Than that it lived at all.  Farewell.
 
Note 1. “The name of this lady upon whom this most exquisite epitaph was written is unknown. Jonson wished it concealed, and the secret seems to have been carefully kept until the means of tracing it was lost.” (Gifford.) [back]
 
 
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