Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
 
An Elegie on Dr. Ravis, Bishop of London
LIII. Richard Corbet
 
WHEN 1 I past Paul’s, and travell’d in that walke
Where all our Britaine sinners sweare and talk,
And then beheld the body of my Lord
Trood under foote by vice that he abhorr’d,
It wounded me, the Landlord of all times        5
Should let long lives and leases to their crimes,
And to his springing honour did afford
Scarce soe much time as to the prophet’s gourd.
Yet, since swift flights of vertue have apt ends,
Like breath of angels, which a blessing sends,        10
And vanisheth withall, whilst fouler deeds
Expect a tedious harvest for bad seeds;
I blame not fame and nature if they gave,
Where they could give no more, their last, a grave.
And wisely doe thy grieved friends forbeare        15
Bubbles and alabaster boyes to reare
On thy religious dust; for men did know
Thy life, which such illusion cannot show;
For thou hast trod among those happy ones
Who trust not in their superscriptions,        20
Their hired epitaphs, and perjured stone,
Which oft belies the soul when she is gone;
And durst committ thy body as it lyes
To tongues of living men, nay, unborne eyes.
What profits thee a sheet of lead? what good        25
If on thy corse a marble quarry stood?
Let those that fear their rising purchase vaults,
And reare them statues to excuse their faults;
As if, like birds that peck at painted grapes,
Their Judge knew not their persons from their shapes:        30
Whilst thou assured, through thy easy dust
Shalt rise at first; they would not, though they must.
 
Note 1. LIII. Richard Corbet, Bishop of Norwich, was born in 1582, and died in 1635. He wrote “Miscellaneous Poems,” from which “An Elegie on Dr. Ravis, Bishop of London,” is here given. [back]
 
 
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