Margaret Crum (ed.), The Poems of Henry King

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An Elegy Upon my Best Friend L. K. C.

  • Editor’s Note1Should we our Sorrows in this Method range,
  • 2Oft as Misfortune doth their Subjects change,
  • 3And to the sev'rall Losses, which befall,
  • 4Pay diff'rent Rites at ev'ry Funeral;
  • pg 1345Like narrow Springs drain'd by dispersed Streams,
  • 6We must want Tears to wail such various Themes,
  • 7And prove defective in Death's mournfull Laws,
  • 8Not having Words proportion'd to each Cause.
  • 9 In your Dear loss my much afflicted Sense
  • 10Discerns this Truth by sad experience,
  • 11Who never Look'd my Verses should survive,
  • 12As wet Records, That you are not Alive;
  • 13And less desir'd to make that Promise due,
  • 14Which pass'd from Me in jest, when urg'd by You.
  • Critical Apparatus15 How close and slily doth our Frailty work!
  • 16How undiscover'd in the Body lurk!
  • 17That Those who this Day did salute you well,
  • 18Before the Next were frighted by your Knell.
  • 19O wherefore since we must in Order rise,
  • 20Should wee not Fall in equal Obsequies?
  • 21But bear th'Assaults of an uneven Fate,
  • 22Like Feavers which their Hour anticipate;
  • Editor’s Note23Had this Rule constant been, my long wish'd End
  • 24Might render you a Mourner for your Friend:
  • 25As He for you, whose most deplor'd surprise
  • 26Imprints your Death on all my Faculties;
  • 27That hardly my dark Phant'sie or Discourse
  • 28This final Duty from the Pen inforce:
  • 29  Such Influence hath your Eclipsed Light,
  • 30It doth my Reason like my Self benight.
  • 31  Let me, with Luckless Gamesters, then think best
  • Editor’s Note32(After I have Set up and Lost my Rest)
  • 33Grow'n desp'rate through mischance, to Venture last
  • 34My whole remaining Stock upon a Cast,
  • Editor’s Note35And flinging from me my now Loathed Pen,
  • 36Resolve for your Sake nev'r to Write agen:
  • 37For whilst Successive days their Light renew,
  • 38I must no Subject hope to Equal you,
  • 39In whose Heroick Brest as in their Sphear,
  • Critical Apparatus40All Graces of your Sex concentred were.
  • pg 13541  Thus take I my long Farewell of that Art,
  • 42Fit only glorious Actions to impart;
  • Critical Apparatus43That Art wherewith our Crosses we beguile,
  • 44And make them in Harmonious numbers smile:
  • 45Since you are gone, This holds no further use,
  • 46Whose Virtue and Desert inspir'd my Muse.
  • 47O may She in your Ashes Buried be,
  • 48Whilst I my Self become the Elegie.
  • 49 And as it is observ'd when Princes Dye,
  • 50(In honour of that sad Solemnity)
  • 51The now unoffic'd Servants crack their Staves,
  • 52And throw them down into their Masters' Graves:
  • 53So this last Office of my broken Verse,
  • 54I solemnly resign upon your Hearse;
  • 55And my Brain's moisture, all that is unspent,
  • 56Shall melt to nothing at the Monument.
  • 57Thus in moist Weather when the Marble weeps,
  • 58You'l think it only his Tears reck'ning keeps,
  • 59Who doth for ever to his Thoughts bequeath
  • 60The Legacy of your lamented Death.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1–8 This was the eighteenth poem of its kind that King had written.
Critical Apparatus
15–18 omitted H
Editor’s Note
23 long wish'd End: cf. 'An Exequy' (1624), loc. cit.
Editor’s Note
32–33 **Rest)… mischance##, 1664:**Rest, … mischance)##H.
Editor’s Note
35 And flinging from mee my, now loathed Pen H: Dr. Simpson drew attention to this 'delicate example of seventeenth-century punctuation', Bodleian Quarterly Record, v, 1926–9, p. 326.
Critical Apparatus
40 your] the H
Critical Apparatus
43 Crosses] Sorrowes H.
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