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On Shakespear -- John Milton

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.
-- John Milton
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[1]).

m.

[1] "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."

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