1616 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Thomas Overbury

W. S., "Upon the untimely Death of the Author of this ingenious Poem, Sir Tho: Overbury Knight, poysoned in the Towre" Sir Thomas Overburie, His Wife, with New Elegies (1616) sigs ¶6-¶7.



So many Moones so many times gone round,
And rose from Hell, and Darknesse, under ground,
And yet till now, this darkned deed of Hell
Not brought to light? O tardie Heaven! yet tell
If Murther layes him downe to sleep with Lust
Or no? reveale, as thou art Truth, and Just,
The Secrets of this unjust secure Act,
And what our feares make us suspect, compact
With greater deeds of Mischiefe, for alone
We thinke not This, and doe suspect yet One,
To which compar'd, This, but a falling Starre,
That a bright Firmament of Fire: Thy Care
We see takes meaner things: It times the World
The Signes at random thorough the Zodiack hurld,
The Stars wild wandrings, and the glib-quick Hinges
Which turne both Poles; and all the violent changes
It over-lookes, which trouble th' endlesse course
Of the high Firmament: by thy blest Force
Doe hoary winter frosts make forrests bare,
And straight to Groves againe their shades repaire,
By Thee doth Autums, Lyons-flaming Maine
Ripen the fruits: and the full yeere sustaine
Her burdned powres: O being still the same,
Ruling so much, and under whom the frame
Of this vast world weighd, all his Orbes dost guide,
Why are thy Cares of Men no more applide?
Or if: why seem'st thou sleeping to the Good,
And guarding to the Ill? as if the brood
Of best things still must Chance take in Command
And not thy Providence: and Her blinde Hand
Thy Benefits erroniously disburse,
Which so let fall, ne're fall but to the worse?
Whence so, great crimes commit the Greater sort,
And boldest acts of shame blaze in the Court,
Where Buffones worship in their rise of State
Those filthy Scarrabs, whom they Serve, and Hate.
Sure things meere backward, there; Honor disgracst;
And Vertue layd by Fraud, and Poyson, waste:
The Adult'rer up like Haman, and so Sainted:
And Femals modesty (as Femals) painted,
Lost in all reall worth: what shall we say?
Things so farre out of frame, as if the day
Were come wherein another Phaeton
Stolne into Phoebus waine, had all misse-won
A cleane contrary way: O powerfull God,
Right all amisse, and set the wonted period
Of Goodnesse in his place againe: This deed
Be Usher to bring foorth the Maske, and Weed
Where under, blacker things lye hid perhap,
And yet have Hope to make a safe escape.
Of This, make knowen, why such an Instrument
As Weston, a poore Serving-man, should rent
The frame of this sad-good-mans life: did he
Stand with this Court-bred learned OVERBURIE,
In strife for an Ambasdorship? no, no,
His Orbe held no such light: what did he owe
The Prophet malice for composing this,
This Cynossura in neat Poesis,
How Good, and Great men ought, and All, to chuse
A chaste, fit, noble Wife, and the abuse
Of Strumpets friendly shadowing in the same,
Was this his fault? or doth there lie a flame
Yet in the embers not unrak't, for which
He di'de so falsly? Heaven we doe beseech
Unlocke this secret, and bring all to view,
That Law may purge the bloud, Lust made untrue.