To the Immortall Memory of the Fairest and Most Vertuous Lady, the Lady by William Bosworth (Boxworth)

Her tongue hath ceast to speak, which might make dumb
All tongues, might stay all Pens, al hands benum;
Yet must I write, O that it might have been
While she had liv’d, and had my verses seen,
Before sad cries deaf’d my untuned ears,
When verses flow’d more easily than tears.
Ah why neglected I to write her praise,
And paint her Vertues in those happy dayes!
Then my now trembling hand and dazled eye,
Had seldome fail’d, having the pattern by;
Or had it err’d, or made some strokes amiss,
(For who can portray Vertue as it is?)
Art might with Nature have maintain’d her strife,
By curious lines to imitate true life.
But now those Pictures want their lively grace,
As after death none well can draw the face:
We let our friends passe idlely like our time,
Till they be gone, and then we see our crime,
And think what worth in them might have been known,
What duties done, and what affection shown:
Untimely knowledge, which so dear doth cost,
And then begins when the thing known is lost;
Yet this cold love, this envy, this neglect,
Proclaims us modest, while our due respect
To goodness is restrain’d by servile fear,
Lest to the world, it flatt’ry should appear:
As if the present hours deserv’d no praise:
But age is past, whose knowledge only stayes
On that weak prop which memory sustains,
Should be the proper subject of our strains:
Or as if foolish men asham’d to sing
Of Violets, and Roses in the Spring,
Should tarry till the flow’rs were blown away,
And till the Muses life and heat decay;
Then is the fury slack’d, the vigour fled,
As here in mine, since it with her was dead:
Which still may sparkle, but shall flame no more,
Because no time shall her to us restore:
Yet may these Sparks, thus kindled with her fame,
Shine brighter, and live longer than some flame.
Here expectation urgeth me to tell
Her high perfections, which the world knew well.
But they are far beyond my skill t’unfold,
They were poor vertues if they might be told.
But thou, who fain would’st take a gen’rall view
Of timely fruits which in this garden grew,
On all the vertues in mens actions look,
Or read their names writ in some morall book;
And sum the number which thou there shalt find:
So many liv’d, and triumph’d in her mind.
Nor dwelt these Graces in a house obscure,
But in a Palace fair, which might allure
The wretch, who no respect to vertue bore,
To love It, for the garments which it wore.
So that in her the body and the soule
Contended, which should most adorn the whole.
O happy soul for such a body meet,
How are the firm chains of that union sweet,
Dissever’d in the twinkling of an eye?
And we amaz’d dare ask no reason why,
But silent think, that God is pleas’d to show,
That he hath works, whose ends we cannot know:
Let us then cease to make a vain request,
To learn why die the fairest, why the best;
For all these things, which mortals hold most dear,
Most slipp’ry are, and yeeld less joy than fear;
And being lifted high by mens desire,
Are more propitious marks for heav’nly fire;
And are laid prostrate with the first assault,
Because, our love makes their desert their fault.
Then justice, us to some amends should move
For this our fruitless, nay our hurtfull love;
We in their Honour, piles of stone erect
With their dear Names, and worthy praises deckt:
But since those fail, their glories we reherse,
In better Marble, everlasting verse,
By which we gather from consuming hours,
Some parts of them, though time the rest devours;
Then if the Muses can forbid to die,
As we their Priests suppose, why may not I?
Although the least and hoarsest in the quire,
Clear beams of blessed immortality inspire
To keep thy blest remembrance ever young,
Still to be freshly in all ages sung:
Or if my work in this unable be,
Yet shall it ever live, upheld by thee:
For thou shalt live, though Poems should decay,
Since Parents teach their Sons, thy praise to say;
And to Posterity, from hand to hand
Convey it with their blessing and their land.
Thy quiet rest from death, this good derives,
Instead of one, it gives thee many lives:
While these lines last, thy shadow dwelleth here,
Thy fame, it self extendeth ev’ry where;
In Heav’n our hopes have plac’d thy better part:
Thine Image lives, in thy sad Husbands heart:
Who as when he enjoy’d thee, he was chief
In love and comfort, so is he now in grief.

From: Bosworth, William, The chast and lost lovers living shadowed in the person of Arcadius and Sepha and illustrated with the several stories of Haemon and Antigone, Eramio and Amissa, Phaon and Sappho, Delithason and Verista … : to which is added the contestation betwixt Bacchus and Diana, and certain sonnets of the author to Aurora / digested into three poems by Will. Bosworth, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford: pp. 119-122.

Date: 1651

By: William Bosworth (Boxworth) (1607-?1650)


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