This week's theme: a series of poems in tribute to other poets.
(Poem #127) On Shakespear
What needs my Shakespear for his honour'd Bones, The labour of an age in piled Stones, Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid Under a Star-ypointing Pyramid? Dear son of memory, great heir of Fame, What need'st thou such weak witnes of thy name? Thou in our wonder and astonishment Hast built thy self a live-long Monument. For whilst toth' shame of slow-endeavouring art, Thy easie numbers flow, and that each heart Hath from the leaves of thy unvalu'd Book, Those Delphick lines with deep impression took Then thou our fancy of it self bereaving, Dost make us Marble with too much conceaving; And so Sepulcher'd in such pomp dost lie, That Kings for such a Tomb would wish to die.
This is one of Milton's earlier works (1630), and the language is slightly more archaic than, say 'On His Blindness' (1655), but still understandable. The verse also seems, IMO, a lot less mature - it is interesting to compare this to 'On His Blindness' and note Milton's development as a poet. Also interesting is the comparison of his sentiments with those expressed in several of the Bard's sonnets - Shakespeare, as noted earlier, frequently returned to the theme of time, and the immortality conferred by poetry. The entire poem, in fact, seems deliberately influenced by Shakespeare (for example, the opening couplet, with it's stones/bones rhyme, might be a reference to Shakespeare's epitaph). m.  "Good Friends, for Jesus' sake forbear, To dig the bones enclosed here! Blest be the man that spares these stones, And curst be he that moves my bones."