Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
An Epitaph on the Admirable Dramatic Poet, William Shakespeare
By John Milton (1608–1674)
 
[1630; æt. 22.]

WHAT needs my Shakespeare for his honour’d bones,
The labour of an age in piled stones?
Or that his hallow’d relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,        5
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou, in our wonder and astonishment,
Hast built thyself a livelong monument.
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart        10
Hath, from the leaves of thy unvalued book,
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving:
And, so sepulchred, in such pomp dost lie,        15
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
 
 
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