Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
The Shrouding of the Duchess of Malfi
By John Webster (c. 1580–1634)
 
HARK! 1 Now everything is still,
The screech-owl and the whistler shrill,
Call upon our dame aloud,
And bid her quickly don her shroud!
 
Much you had of land and rent;        5
Your length in clay’s now competent:
A long war disturb’d your mind;
Here your perfect peace is sign’d.
 
Of what is’t fools make such vain keeping?
Sin their conception, their birth weeping,        10
Their life a general mist of error,
Their death a hideous storm of terror.
 
Strew your hair with powders sweet,
Don clean linen, bathe your feet,
And—the foul fiend more to check—        15
A crucifix let bless your neck:
’Tis now full tide ’tween night and day;
End your groan and come away.
 
Note 1. From The Duchess of Malfi, 1623. [back]
 
 
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