1638 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Randolph

R. Gostelow, "On the Death of Mr. Randolph" Randolph, Poems (1638) sigs ***-***2.



When Donne, and Beaumont dyed, an Epitaph
Some men (I well remember) thought unsafe;
And said they did presume to write, unlesse
They could their teares in their expression dresse.
But love makes me more bold, and telles me I
In humble termes to vent my piety
May safely dare; and reason thinks not fit,
For which I lov'd, I now should feare that wit.
Respect lookes like a bargaine, if confinde
To rules precise; and is more just then kinde.
If by a poiz'd and equall testament
It turnes good-will, into a covenant;
Must every present offer'd to a Prince
Be just proportion'd to his eminence?
Or ought my Elegy unjust be thought
Because I cannot mourne thee as I ought?
Such lawes as these, (if any be so bold)
Ought those unskilfull but proud soules to hold,
Who think they could and did, at a due rate
Love thee; not mee, whose love was passionate,
And hath decreed how ere the censure goe,
Thus much, although but thus, to let men know.
I doe admire no Comet did presage
The mournfull period of thy wonder'd age;
Or that no Sybill did thy death fore tell,
Since that by it alone more ill befell
The Laurell-God, then when the day was come
Wherein his Delphick-Oracle was dumbe:
In meaner wits that proverbe chance may hold
(That they which are soon ripe are seldome old)
But 'twas a poore one, and for thee unfit,
Whose infancy might teach their best years wit;
Whose talk was exemplary to their pains,
And whose discourse was tutor to their streines;
If thou wert serious, then the audience
Heard Platoe's works in Tullies eloquence:
If sad, the mourners knew no thrifty size
In teares, but still cri'd out, oh lend more eyes.
If merry, then the juyce of Comedy
Soe sweetned every word, that we might see
Each stander by having enough to doe
To temper mirth, untill some friend could wooe
Thee take the pains to write, that so that pressure
Checking thy soules quick motions, some small leasure
Might be obtain'd to make provision
Of breath, against the next Scen's action.
I could goe through thy works, which will survive
The funerall of time; and gladly strive
Beyond my power, to make that love appeare
Which after death is best seen in a teare;
But praising one, I should dispraise the rest,
Since whatsoere thou didst, was still the best:
Since then I am perswaded that in thee
Wit at her acmie was, and wee shall see
Posterity not daring to aspire
To equalize, but only to admire
Thee as their archetype; with thought of thee
Henceforth I'le thus enrich my memory.
While others count from Earth-quakes, and great frost;
And say i' th' last deare yeare, 'twould thus much cost.
My time-distinctions this shall be among,
Since wits-decay, or Randolph's death, — so long.
R. GOSTELOW. Mr.A. Oxon.