1616 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Thomas Overbury

William Browne of Tavistock, "An Elegie consecrated to the Memorie of the truly worthy and learned Sir Thomas Overburie Knight" Sir Thomas Overburie, His Wife, with New Elegies (1616) sigs ¶7v-¶8.



Had not thy wrong, like to a wound ill cur'd
Broke forth in death; I had not been assur'd
Of griefe enough to finish what I write.
These lines, as those which doe in cold bloud fight
Had come but faintly on; for, ever, he
That shines a name within an Elegie
(Unless some neerer cause doe him inspire)
Kindles his bright flame at the Funerall fire.
Since passion (after, lessning her extent)
Is then more strong, and so more eloquent.

How powerfull is the hand of Murther now!
Was't not enough to see his deare life bowe
Beneath her hate? but crushing that faire frame,
Attempt the like on his unspotted Fame?
O base revenge! more then inhumane fact!
Which (as the Romanes sometime would enact
No doome for Patricide, supposing none
Could ever so offend) the upright Throne
Of Justice salves not: leaving that intent
Without a Name, without a punishment.

Yet through thy wounded Fame, as thorow these
Glasses which multiply the Species,
We see thy virtues more; and they become
So many Statues sleeping on thy Tombe.

Wherein, confinement new thou shalt endure,
But so; as when to make a Pearle more pure
We give it to a Dove, in whose wombe pent
Some time, we have it forth most orient.

Such is thy lustre now, that venomd Spight
With her blacke Soule dares not behold thy light,
But banning it, a course begins to runne
With those that curse the rising of the Sunne.
The poyson, that workes upwards now, shall strive
To be thy faire Fames true Preservative.
And witch-craft that can maske the upper Shine
With no one clowd shall blinde a raye of thine.

And as the Hebrewes in an obscure pit
Their holy fire hid, not extinguish'd it,
And after times, that broke their bondage chaine
Found it, to fire their sacrifice againe:
So lay thy worth somewhile, but being found,
The Muses altars plentifully crownd
With sweet perfumes, by it new kindled be
And offer all to thy deare memorie.

Nor have we lost thee long: thou art not gone,
Nor canst descend into Oblivion.
But twice the Sun went round since thy Soule fled,
Heereafter (rais'd to life) thou still shalt have
An Antidote against the silent grave.
W. B. Int. Temp.