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Poem by William Shakespeare

The Church at Stratford

Old Inscription on the Wall of the Church at Stratford-upon-Avon

Against the west wall of the nave (now in the antechapel), on the south side of the arch, was painted the martyrdom of Thomas à Becket, whilst kneeling at the altar of St. Benedict, in Canterbury cathedral; below this was the figure of an angel, probably St. Michael, supporting a long scroll, upon which were seven stanzas in Old English, being an allegory of mortality.

ERTHE oute of erthe ys wondurly wroght
Erth hath gotyn uppon erth a dygnyte of noght
Erth ypon erth hath sett all hys thowht
How erth apon erth may be hey browght

Erth upon erth wold be a kyng
But how that erth gott to erth he thyngkys nothyng
When erth byddys erth hys rentys whom bryng
Then schall erth apon erth have a hard ptyng

Erth apon erth wynnys castellys and towrys
Then seth erth unto erth thys ys all owrys
When erth apon erth hath bylde hys bowrys
Then schall erth for erth suffur many hard schowrys

Erth goth apon erth as man apon mowld
Lyke as erth apon erth never goo schold
Erth goth apon erth as glesteryng gold
And yet schall erth unto erth rather then he wold

Why that erth loveth erth wondur me thynke
Or why that erth wold for erth other swett or swynke
When erth apon erth ys broght wt.yn the brynke
Then schall erth apon erth have a fowll stynke

Lo erth on erth consedur thow may
How erth comyth to erth nakyd all way
Why schall erth apon erth goo stowte or gay
Seth erth owt of erth schall passe yn poor aray

I counsill erth apon erth that ys wondurly wrogt
The whyl yt. erth ys apon erth to torne hys thowht
And pray to god upon erth yt. all erth wroght
That all crystyn soullys to ye. blys may be broght.

William Shakespeare

Poem Theme: Cities of England

William Shakespeare's other poems:
  1. Anne Hathaway
  2. From the Rape of Lucrece
  3. Aubade
  4. Silvia
  5. Hark! Hark! The Lark

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