Elegy over a Tomb

Original Text: 
Edward Herbert, lord Herbert of Cherbury. Occasional Verses. London: T. Dring, 1665. Facs. edn. Menston: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 2294 H2 O2 1969
1Must I then see, alas, eternal night
2    Sitting upon those fairest eyes,
3And closing all those beams, which once did rise
4    So radiant and bright
5That light and heat in them to us did prove
6    Knowledge and love?
7Oh, if you did delight no more to stay
8    Upon this low and earthly stage,
9But rather chose an endless heritage,
10    Tell us at least, we pray,
11Where all the beauties that those ashes ow'd
12    Are now bestow'd.
13Doth the sun now his light with yours renew?
14    Have waves the curling of your hair?
15Did you restore unto the sky and air
16    The red, and white, and blue?
17Have you vouchsaf'd to flowers since your death
18    That sweetest breath?
19Had not heav'n's lights else in their houses slept,
20    Or to some private life retir'd?
21Must not the sky and air have else conspir'd,
22    And in their regions wept?
23Must not each flower else the earth could breed,
24    Have been a weed?
25But thus enrich'd may we not yield some cause
26    Why they themselves lament no more?
27That must have chang'd the course they held before,
28    And broke their proper laws,
29Had not your beauties giv'n this second birth
30    To heaven and earth.
31Tell us (for oracles must still ascend
32    For those that crave them at your tomb),
33Tell us where are those beauties now become,
34    And what they now intend;
35Tell us, alas, that cannot tell our grief,
36    Or hope relief.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.296; RPO 1996-2000.