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An Elegy Upon the Death of the Lady Penelope Clifton
by [?]

Must I needs write, who’s he that can refuse,
He wants a mind, for her that hath no Muse,
The thought of her doth heav’nly rage inspire,
Next powerful, to those cloven tongues of fire.
Since I knew aught, time never did allow
Me stuff fit for an Elegy, till now;
When France and England’s HENRIES dy’d, my quill,
Why, I know not, but it that time lay still.
‘Tis more then greatness that my spirit must raise,
To observe custom I use not to praise;
Nor the least thought of mine yet e’er depended,
On any one from whom she was descended;
That for their favour I this way should woo,
As some poor wretched things (perhaps) may do;
I gain the end, whereat I only aim,
If by my freedom, I may give her fame.

Walking then forth being newly up from bed,
O Sir (quoth one) the Lady CLIFTON’S dead.
When, but that reason my stern rage withstood,
My hand had sure been guilty of his blood.
If she be so, must thy rude tongue confess it
(Quoth I) and com’st so coldly to express it.
Thou shouldst have given a shriek, to make me fear thee;
That might have slain what ever had been near thee.
Thou shouldst have com’n like Time with thy scalp bare,
And in thy hands thou shouldst have brought thy hair,
Casting upon me such a dreadfull look,
As seen a spirit, or th’adst been thunder-struck,
And gazing on me so a little space,
Thou shouldst haue shot thine eye balls in my face,
Then falling at my feet, thou shouldst have said,
O she is gone, and Nature with her dead.

With this ill newes amaz’d by chance I past,
By that near Grove, whereas both first and last,
I saw her, not three months before shee dy’d.
When (though full Summer’gan to veil her pride,
And that I sawe men lead home ripened Corn,
Besides advis’d me well,) I durst have sworn
The ling’ring year, the Autumn had adjourn’d,
And the fresh Spring had been again return’d,
Her delicacy, loveliness, and grace,
With such a Summer bravery deck’d the place:
But now alas, it look forlorn and dead;
And where she stood, the fading leaves were shed,
Presenting only sorrow to my sight,
O God (thought I) this is her Emblem right.
And sure I think it cannot but be thought,
That I to her by providence was brought.
For that the Fates fore-dooming, she should die,
Showed me this wondrous Masterpiece, that I
Should sing her Funeral, that the world should know it,
That heaven did think her worthy of a Poet;
My hand is fatal, nor doth fortune doubt,
For what it writes, not fire shall e’er race out.
A thousand silken Puppets should have died,
And in their fulsome Coffins putrified,
Ere in my lines, you of their names should hear
To tell the world that such there ever were,
Whose memory shall from the earth decay,
Before those Rags be worne they gave away:
Had I her god-like features neuer seen,
Poor slight Report had told me she had been
A hansome Lady, comely, very well,
And so might I have died an Infidel,
As many do which never did her see,
Or cannot credit, what she was, by me.

Nature, herself, that before Art prefers
To go beyond all our Cosmographers,
By Charts and Maps exactly that have shown,
All of this earth that ever can be known,
For that she would beyond them all descry
What Art could not by any mortal eye;
A Map of heaven in her rare features drew,
And that she did so lively and so true,
That any soul but seeing it might swear
That all was perfect heavenly that was there.
If ever any Painter were so blest,
To draw that face, which so much heav’n express’d,
If in his best of skill he did her right,
I wish it neuer may come in my sight,
I greatly doubt my faith (weak man) lest I
Should to that face commit Idolatry.