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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: August ::
Funeral Elegy
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1960  Tuesday, 7 August 2001

From:           Richard Kennedy <
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Date:           Sunday, 05 Aug 2001 15:21:36 -0700
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

Here are twelve sets of verse.  Four of the stanzas are from the
"Funeral Elegy" by W.S.  Four are from John Ford's "Fame's Memorial,"
and four are my own invention.  This is a game.   It wouldn't be fair to
go to the books on this, but go to your poetic soul instead. If
Shakespeare wrote any of this drivel, which stanzas did he write?

1.     True virtue grac'd his mind; be witness ever
        The provident forecast of wise discretion;
        His wary prudence, which did still endeavor
        To hold him from the wreck of spite's impression.

2.     Mere envy sought his deeds to draw despite
        Upon his youth, which common faults all share,
        But manly growth and valor did requite
        And frame his excellence beyond compare.

3.     What memorable monument can last
        Whereon to build his never-blemished name
        But his own worth, wherein his life was grac'd
        Sith as that ever he maintain'd the same?

4.     That is with homage to adore thy name,
        As a rich relic of memorial,
        A trophy consecrated unto unto fame,
        Adding within our hearts historical
        High epithets past hyperbolical.

5.     Nor can the tongue of him who lov'd him best
        (if there be minority of love
        To one superlative above the rest
        Of many men in steady faith reprove.)

6.     Sufficient more than solemn oath can seal,
        His saintly temper every fault erase
        That would impute some wonted vice unreal;
        The record of his goodness lends him praise.

7.     Not that he was above the spleenful sense
        And spite of malice, but for that he had
        Warrant enough in his own innocence
        Against the sting of some in nature bad.

8.     Noble he was, witness his elate spirit,
        Whose unappalled stomach scorn'd compare;
        Noble he was, witness his peerless merit,
        Which stain'd competitors, witness his rare
        Renown'd examples do the same declare.

9.     Of Envy's compt to stain his vertuous life,
        His enemies, the slander of that voice,
        Shall not press down his merit or his strife
        To pattern out his life as one who could
        Commend his fellow Christians to be good.

10.   When sin can tread on merit in the dust,
        Cannot rase out the lamentable tomb
        Of his short-liv'd deserts; but still they must
        Even in the hearts and memories of men.

11.   Lo, here the pith of valor molded fast
        In curious workmanship of Nature's art:
        Lo, here the monuments which ever last
        To all succeeding ages of desert,
        Noble in all, and all in every part:
        Records of fame and characters of brass,
        Containing acts, such acts conceit do pass.

12.   When Nature call'd on Fortune to give cause
        Why wrack'd are some men, some or'passed,
        Yet answer gave She not, but made a pause,
        The good die young, full worthy as thou wast.

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