Epitaph (1654)

Katherine Philips

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Links On

What on Earth deserves our trust?
Youth and beauty both are dust.
Long we gathering are with pain,
What one moment calls again.
Seven years childless marriage past,
A son, a son is born at last:
So exactly limbed and fair,
Full of good spirits, mien, and air,
As a long life promised,
Yet, in less than six weeks dead.
Too promising, too great a mind
In so small room to be confined:
Therefore, as fit in Heaven to dwell,
He quickly broke the prison shell.
So the subtle alchemist,
Can’t with Hermes Seal resist
The powerful spirit’s subtler flight,
But t’will bid him long good night.
And so the sun if it arise
Half so glorious as his eyes,
Like this infant, takes a shroud,
Buried in a morning Cloud.

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

mien, n.1  Hermes, n.