An Elegie. On The Death Of Mrs. Cassandra Cotton, Only Sister To Mr. C. Cotton.
by Richard Lovelace
Hither with hallowed steps as is the ground,
That must enshrine this saint with lookes profound,
And sad aspects as the dark vails you weare,
Virgins opprest, draw gently, gently neare;
Enter the dismall chancell of this rooome,
Where each pale guest stands fixt a living tombe;
With trembling hands helpe to remove this earth
To its last death and first victorious birth:
Let gums and incense fume, who are at strife
To enter th' hearse and breath in it new life;
Mingle your steppes with flowers as you goe,
Which, as they haste to fade, will speake your woe.
And when y' have plac't your tapers on her urn,
How poor a tribute 'tis to weep and mourn!
That flood the channell of your eye-lids fils,
When you lose trifles, or what's lesse, your wills.
If you'l be worthy of these obsequies,
Be blind unto the world, and drop your eyes;
Waste and consume, burn downward as this fire
That's fed no more: so willingly expire;
Passe through the cold and obscure narrow way,
Then light your torches at the spring of day,
There with her triumph in your victory.
Such joy alone and such solemnity
Becomes this funerall of virginity.
Or, if you faint to be so blest, oh heare!
If not to dye, dare but to live like her:
Dare to live virgins, till the honour'd age
Of thrice fifteen cals matrons on the stage,
Whilst not a blemish or least staine is scene
On your white roabe 'twixt fifty and fifteene;
But as it in your swathing-bands was given,
Bring't in your winding sheet unsoyl'd to Heav'n.
Daere to do purely, without compact good,
Or herald, by no one understood
But him, who now in thanks bows either knee
For th' early benefit and secresie.
Dare to affect a serious holy sorrow,
To which delights of pallaces are narrow,
And, lasting as their smiles, dig you a roome,
Where practise the probation of your tombe
With ever-bended knees and piercing pray'r,
Smooth the rough passe through craggy earth to ay'r;
Flame there as lights that shipwrackt mariners
May put in safely, and secure their feares,
Who, adding to your joyes, now owe you theirs.
Virgins, if thus you dare but courage take
To follow her in life, else through this lake
Of Nature wade, and breake her earthly bars,
Y' are fixt with her upon a throne of stars,
Arched with a pure Heav'n chrystaline,
Where round you love and joy for ever shine.
But you are dumbe, as what you do lament
More senseles then her very monument,
Which at your weaknes weeps. Spare that vaine teare,
Enough to burst the rev'rend sepulcher.
Rise and walk home; there groaning prostrate fall,
And celebrate your owne sad funerall:
For howsoe're you move, may heare, or see,
YOU ARE MORE DEAD AND BURIED THEN SHEE.