An Exequy to His Matchless Never to be Forgotten Friend (1657)

Henry King

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Links On

Only lines 81-120 should be recited, as shown below

 

Sleep on, my love, in thy cold bed,
Never to be disquieted!
My last goodnight! Thou wilt not wake
Till I thy fate shall overtake;
Till age, or grief, or sickness must
Marry my body to that dust
It so much loves, and fill the room
My heart keeps empty in thy tomb.
Stay for me there, I will not fail
To meet thee in that hollow vale.
And think not much of my delay;
I am already on the way,
And follow thee with all the speed
Desire can make, or sorrows breed.
Each minute is a short degree,
And every hour a step towards thee.
At night when I betake to rest,
Next morn I rise nearer my west
Of life, almost by eight hours’ sail,
Than when sleep breathed his drowsy gale.
Thus from the sun my bottom steers,
And my day’s compass downward bears;
Nor labour I to stem the tide
Through which to thee I swiftly glide.
‘Tis true, with shame and grief I yield,
Thou like the van first took’st the field,
And gotten hath the victory
In thus adventuring to die
Before me, whose more years might crave
A just precedence in the grave.
But hark! my pulse like a soft drum
Beats my approach, tells thee I come;
And slow howe’er my marches be,
I shall at last sit down by thee.
The thought of this bids me go on,
And wait my dissolution
With hope and comfort. Dear, (forgive
The crime) I am content to live
Divided, with but half a heart,
Till we shall meet and never part.

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

van  bottom  marry, v.