Elegy for the Prince.
by Edward Herbert, Lord Chirbury
Must he be ever dead ? Cannot we add
Another life unto that Prince that had
Our souls laid up in him ? Could not our love,
Now when he left us, make that body move,
After his death one Age ? And keep unite
For what are souls but love? Since they do know
Only for it, and can no further go.
Sense is the Soul of Beasts, because none can
Proceed so far as t' understand like Man :
And if souls be more where they love, then where
They animate, why did it not appear
In keeping him alive : Or how is fate
Equal to us, when one man's private hate
May ruine Kingdoms, when he will expose
Himself to certain death, and yet all those
Not keep alive this Prince, who now is gone,
Whose loves would give thousands of lives for one :
Do we then dye in him, only as we
May in the worlds harmonique body see
An universally diffused soul
Move in the parts which moves not in the whole ?
So though we rest with him, we do appear
To live and stir a while, as if he were
Still quick'ning us ? Or do (perchance) we live
And know it not ? See we not Autumn give
Back to the earth again what it receiv'd
In th' early Spring ? And may not we deceiv'd
Think that those powers are dead, which do but sleep,
And the world's soul doth reunited keep ?
And though this Autumn gave, what never more
Any Spring can unto the world restore,
May we not be deceiv'd, and think we know
Our selves for dead ? Because that we are so
Unto each other, when as yet we live
A life his love and memory doth give,
Who was our worlds soul, and to whom we are
So reunite, that in him we repair
All other our affections ill bestow'd :
Since by this love we now have such abode
With him in Heaven as we had here, before
He left us dead. Nor shall we question more,
Whether the Soul of man be memory,
As Plato thought : We and posterity
Shall celebrate his name, and vertuous grow,
Only in memory that he was so ;
And on those tearms we may yet seem to live,
Because he lived once, though we shall strive
To sigh away this seeming life so fast,
As if with us 'twere not already past.
We then are dead, for what doth now remain
To please us more, or what can we call pain,
Diff'rence in life and death, but to partake
Nor joy, nor pain ? Oh death, could'st not fulfill
Thy rage against us no way, but to kill
This Prince, in whom we liv'd ? that so we all
Might perish by thy hand at once, and fall
Under his ruine, thenceforth though we should
Do all the actions that the living would,
Yet we shall not remember that we live,
No more then when our Mothers womb did give
That life we felt not : Or should we proceed
To such a wonder, that the dead should breed,
It should be wrought to keep that memory,
Which being his, can, therefore, never dy.
Novemb. 9. 1612.
Transcribed and coded by Anniina Jokinen from the Scolar Press
Facsimile of Occasional Verses of Edward Lord Herbert (1665)
Bodleian Library. Shelf-mark: Bliss. A.98. Wing H1508.
Transcription and code copyright ©1999 Anniina Jokinen.