Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
XXVI. Melancholy
From ‘Elegy on the Lady Venetia Digby’
By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
’TWERE time that I died too, now she is dead,
Who was my Muse, and life of all I said;
The spirit that I wrote with, and conceived
All that was good or great, in me she weaved….
Thou hast no more blows, Fate, to drive at one:        5
What ’s left a poet, when his Muse is gone?…
Indeed, she is not dead! but laid to sleep
In earth, till the last trump awake the sheep
And goats together, whither they must come
To hear their Judge, and His eternal doom….        10
And she doth know, out of the shade of death,
What ’tis to enjoy an everlasting breath!
To have her captived spirit freed from flesh,
And on her innocence, a garment fresh
And white, as that, put on: and in her hand        15
With boughs of palm, a crownèd victrice stand!…
She was in one a many parts of life;
A tender mother, a discreeter wife,
A solemn mistress, and so good a friend,
So charitable, to religious end        20
In all her petite actions, so devote,
As her whole life was now become one note
Of piety, and private holiness.
She spent more time in tears herself to dress
For her devotions, and those sad essays        25
Of sorrow, than all pomp of gaudy days;
And came forth ever cheered, with the rod
Of divine comfort, when she had talked with God.

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