Going into a church my prayers to say,
Close by a tomb a mourning beauty lay.
Her knees on marble cold were bowed down low,
And fixed so firm as if she there did grow.
Her elbow on the tomb did steady stand; 5
Her head hung back, the hind part in her hand,
Turning her eyes up to the heavens high,
Left nothing but the white of either eye.
Upon the lower shut did hang a tear,
Like to a diamond pendant in an ear. 10
Her breast was panting sore, as if Life meant
To seek after her heart, which way it went.
I, standing there, observèd what she did;
At last she from her hand did raise her head,
And casting down her eyes, ne’er look’d about; 15
Tears pulled her eyelids down as they gushed out.
Then with a gentle groan at last did speak;
Her words were soft, voice sounded low and weak:
“O Heavens!” said she, “O! What do you mean?
I dare not think you gods can have a spleen, 20
And yet I find great torments you do give,
And creatures make in misery to live.
You show us joys, but we possess not one;
You give us life, for Death to feed upon.
O cruel Death! Thy dart hath made me poor; 25
Thou struck’st that heart my life did most adore.
You gods, delight not thus me to torment,
But strike me dead by this dear monument,
And let our ashes mix both in this urn,
That both into one phoenix we may turn.” 30
Hearing her mourn, I went to give relief,
But oh, alas! Her ears were stopped with grief.
When I came near, her blood congealed to ice,
And all her body changèd in a trice;
That ice straight melted, into tears did turn, 35
And through the Earth’s pores got into the urn.
Upon a grave outrageous Sorrow set,
Digging the earth, as if she through would get.
Her hair untied loose on her shoulders hung,
And every hair with tears, like beads, was strung,
And when those tears did fall with their own weight, 5
Then newborn tears supplied their places straight.
She held a dagger, seemed with courage bold;
Grief bid her strike, but Fear did bid her hold.
Impatience raised her voice, and shrieking shrill,
Which sounded like a trumpet on a hill. 10
Her face was flecked, like marble streaked with red,
Caused by grief’s vapors flying to her head.
Her bosom bare, her garments loose and wide,
And in this posture lay by Death’s cold side.
By chance a man, who had a fluent tongue, 15
Came walking by, seeing her lie along,
Pitying her sad condition and her grief,
Did strain by rhet’ric’s help, to give relief.
“Why do you mourn,” said he, “and thus complain,
Since grief will neither Death nor gods restrain? 20
When they at first all creatures did create,
They did them all to Death predestinate.
Your sorrow cannot alter their decree,
Nor call back life by your impatiency.
Nor can the dead from Love receive a heat, 25
Nor hear the sound of lamentations great,
For Death is stupid, being numb and cold,
No ears to hear, nor eyes for to behold.
Then mourn no more, since you no help can give,
Take pleasure in your beauty whilst you live, 30
For in the fairest Nature pleasure takes,
But if you die, then Death his triumph makes.”
At last his words like keys unlocked her ears,
And then she straight considers what she hears.
“Pardon, you gods,” said she, “my murm’ring crime; 35
My grief shall ne’er dispute your will divine,
And in sweet life will I take most delight.”
And so went home with that fond carpet-knight.
Upon the hill of sad melancholy,
I did a silent mourning beauty spy,
Still as the night; not one articulate noise
Did once rise up, shut close from th’light of joys,
Only a wind of sighs, which did arise 5
From the deep cave, the heart, wherein it lies.
A veil of sadness o’er her face was flung,
Sorrow, a mantle black, about her hung.
Her leaning head upon her hand did rest;
The other hand was laid upon the breast. 10
Her eyes did humbly bow towards the ground;
Their object, th’earth, was in her eyes quite drowned.
From her soft heart a spring of tears did rise,
Which ran from the two fountains of her eyes,
And where those show’rs did fall, the flow’rs which sprung 15
No comfort gave; their heads for grief down hung.
Yet did the stars shine bright as tapers by;
Shadows of light did sit as mourners nigh.
At last the gods did pity her sad fate,
Her to a shining comet did translate. 20
Into the cup of love pour sorrow’s tears,
Where every drop a perfect image bears,
And trickling down the hill of beauty’s cheek,
Falls on the breast, dives through, the heart to seek.
Which heart would be burned up with fire of grief, 5
Did not those tears with moisture give relief.
Widows which honor for your husbands have,
Virtuous in life, and faithful to their graves,
Set altars on this hearse for memory,
And let her fame live here eternally.
Here celebrate her name, come, and do bring 5
Your offerings, and all her praises sing.
For she was one whom Nature strove to make
A pattern fit, ensample from to take.
Unto this grave let unkind parents turn,
And touch these loving ashes in this urn.
All the dislike parents in children find
Shall vanish quite, and be of nature kind.
For in this tomb such pure love buried lies, 5
None perfect is, but what from hence doth rise.
You lovers all come mourn here, and lament
Over this grave, and build a monument
For beauty’s everlasting memory;
The world shall never such another see.
Her face did seem like to a glory bright, 5
Nay, e’en the rising sun from her took light.
The sun and moon could ne’er eclipsed have been
If e’er these planets had her beauty seen.
Nor had this isle been subject to dark nights,
Had not sleep shut her eyes, and stopped those lights; 10
No bodies could infection take; her breath
Did cleanse the air, restoring life from death.
But Nature, finding she had been too free
In making such a mighty power as she,
Used all Industry’s powerful art and skill, 15
And gave Death pow’r this body for to kill.
For had but Nature let this body live,
She’d’ve had no work for Death nor Fates to give.
Calamity was laid on Sorrow’s hearse,
And coverings had of melancholy verse.
Compassion, a kind friend, did mourning go,
And tears about the corpse as flowers strow.
A garland of deep sighs, by pity made, 5
Upon Calamity’s sad corpse was laid;
Bells of complaints did ring it to the grave;
Poets a monument of fame it gave.
Alas, who shall condole my funeral,
Since none is near that doth my life concern?
Or who shall drop a sacrificing tear,
If none but enemies my hearse shall bear?
For here’s no mourner to lament my fall, 5
But all rejoicèd in my fate, though sad,
And think my heavy ruin far too light,
So cruel is their malice, spleen, and spite!
For men no pity nor compassion have,
But all in savage wilderness do delight 10
To wash and bathe themselves in my pure blood,
As if they health received from that red flood.
Yet will the winds ring out my knell,
And showering rain fall on my hearse,
And birds as mourners sit thereon, 15
And grass a covering grow upon.
Rough stones, as scutcheons, shall adorn my tomb,
And glow-worm burning tapers stand thereby;
Night sable covering shall me overspread;
Elegies of mandrakes’ groans shall write me dead. 20
Then let no spade nor pickaxe come near me,
But let my bones in peace rest quietly,
For who the dead dislodges from their grave
Shall neither blessedness nor honor have.
. Thy idea in my mind doth lie,
And is intombed in my sad memory,
Where every day I to thy shrine do go,
And offer tears, which from my eyes do flow.
My heart the fire, whose flames are ever pure, 5
Shall on Love’s altar last, till life endure.
My sorrows incense strew of sighs fetched deep;
My thoughts do watch while thy sweet spirit sleeps.
Dear blessèd soul, though thou art gone, yet lives
Thy fame on earth, and men thee praises give. 10
But all’s too small, for thy heroic mind
Was above all the praises of mankind.