1618 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Raleigh

Henry King, "An Elegy upon S. W. R" 1618 ca.; Poems (1657); Saintsbury, Minor Poets of the Caroline Period (1905-21) 3:217.



I will not weep, for 'twere as great a sin
To shed a tear for thee, as to have bin
An actor in thy death. Thy life and age
Was but a various scene on fortune's stage,
With whom thou tugg'st and strov'st ev'n out of breath
In thy long toil: ne'er master'd till thy death;
And then, despite of trains and cruel wit,
Thou didst at once subdue malice and it.

I dare not then so blast thy memory
As say I do lament or pity thee.
Were I to choose a subject to bestow
My pity on, he should be one as low
In spirit as desert; — that durst not die,
But rather were content by slavery
To purchase life: or I would pity those,
Thy most industrious and friendly foes;
Who, when they thought to make thee scandal's story,
Lent thee a swifter flight to Heav'n and glory;—
That thought, by cutting off some wither'd days
(Which thou couldst spare them), to eclipse thy praise;
Yet gave it brighter foil, made thy ag'd fame
Appear more white and fair, than foul their shame:
And did promote an execution
Which (but for them) Nature and Age had done.

Such worthless things as these were only born
To live on Pity's alms (too mean for scorn).
Thou diedst an envious wonder, whose high fate
The world must still admire, scarce imitate.