On the Memory of Mr. Edward King, Drown'd in the Irish Seas

Original Text: 
John Cleveland, Poems. 1653 (facsimile edn.; Menston: Scolar, 1971). PR 3348 C7A6 1653A Robarts Library
2His artificial grief that scans his eyes;
3Mine weep down pious beads, but why should I
4Confine them to the Muses' rosary?
5I am no poet here; my pen's the spout
6Where the rain-water of my eyes runs out,
7In pity of that name, whose fate we see
9The Muses are not mermaids, though upon
10His death the ocean might turn Helicon.
11The sea's too rough for verse; who rhymes upon 't
13My tears will keep no channel, know no laws
14To guide their streams, but like the waves, their cause,
15Run with disturbance till they swallow me
16As a description of his misery.
17But can his spacious virtue find a grave
19Whose learning if we sound, we must confess
20The sea but shallow, and him bottomless.
21Could not the winds to countermand thy death
23Or some new island in thy rescue peep
24To heave thy resurrection from the deep,
26With no less miracle than thyself was thought?
28Had Nature as familiar as his wife,
30Queen Dowager of all philosophy:
31An ominous legacy, that did portend
32Thy fate and predecessor's second end.
33Some have affirm'd, that what on earth we find,
34The sea can parallel in shape and kind:
35Books, arts, and tongues were wanting, but in thee
36Neptune hath got an university.
37      We'll dive no more for pearls; the hope to see
38Thy sacred reliques of mortality
39Shall welcome storms, and make the seaman prize
40His shipwreck now, more than his merchandise.
41He shall embrace the waves and to thy tomb
42(As to a royaler exchange) shall come.
43What can we now expect? Water and fire
44Both elements our ruin do conspire.
45And that dissolves us which doth us compound,
47We of the gown our libraries must toss
48To understand the greatness of our loss;
49Be pupils to our grief and so much grow
50In learning as our sorrows overflow.
52We'll issue 't forth, and vent such elegies
53As that our tears shall seem the Irish Seas,
54We, floating islands, living Hebrides.


1] First published in Juxta Edouardo King, 1638, a volume of Latin and English elegies, printed at Cambridge in 1638, on the death of Edward King, son of Sir John King, and fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge. He was drowned, August 10, 1637, while on his way from Chester to Ireland, the vessel having struck a sunken rock. Cf. Milton's Lycidas, the last elegy in the book.
tears. A common 17th century term for elegies. Back to Line
8] hydrography. Writing in water; usually "the science of charting navigable waters." Back to Line
12] A reference to Xerxes' bridge of boats over the Hellespont, 480 B.C. Back to Line
18] imposthum'd. Swollen. Back to Line
22] card of lungs. Collection of blasts from every quarter of the compass. Back to Line
25] The sense seems to be, "That your salvation might be as miraculous as the thought of God which decreed your creation." Back to Line
27] Stagirite. Aristotle, a native of Stagira. Back to Line
29] his widow. Nature. Back to Line
46] Vatican. Library. As no burning of the Vatican is recorded, the name is probably used in the sense of "library" (antonomasia). The library at Alexandria was burned by the Mohammedans (A.D. 640).
another drown'd. i.e. in Edward King. Back to Line
51] rundlets. Runlets, small streams. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.337; RPO 1996-2000.