Verse > Harvard Classics > John Milton > Complete Poems
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John Milton. (1608–1674).  Complete Poems.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
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HERE lieth one who did most truly prove
That he could never die while he could move;
So hung his destiny, never to rot
While he might still jog on and keep his trot;
Made of sphere-metal, never to decay        5
Until his revolution was at stay.
Time numbers Motion, yet (without a crime
’Gainst old truth) Motion numbered out his time;
And, like an engine moved with wheel and weight,
His principles being ceased, he ended straight.        10
Rest, that gives all men life, gave him his death,
And too much breathing put him out of breath;
Nor were it contradiction to affirm
Too long vacation hastened on his term.
Merely to drive the time away he sickened,        15
Fainted, and died, nor would with ale be quickened.
“Nay,” quoth he, on his swooning bed outstretched,
“If I may n’t carry, sure I ’ll ne’er be fetched,
But vow, though the cross Doctors all stood hearers,
For one carrier put down to make six bearers.”        20
Ease was his chief disease; and, to judge right,
He died for heaviness that his cart went light.
His leisure told him that his time was come,
And lack of load made his life burdensome,
That even to his last breath (there be that say ’t),        25
As he were pressed to death, he cried, “More weight!”
But, had his doings lasted as they were,
He had been an immortal Carrier.
Obedient to the moon he spent his date
In course reciprocal, and had his fate        30
Linked to the mutual flowing of the seas;
Yet (strange to think) his wain was his increase.
His letters are delivered all and gone;
Only remains this superscription.
 

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