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Poem by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester

The Legacy

My dearest Love! when thou and I must part,
And th' icy hand of death shall seize that heart
Which is all thine; within some spacious will
Ile leave no blanks for Legacies to fill:
Tis my ambition to die one of those
Who but himself hath nothing to dispose.
And since that is already thine, what need
I to re-give it by some newer deed?
Yet take it once again. Free circumstance
Does oft the value of mean things advance:
Who thus repeats what he bequeath'd before,
Proclaims his bounty richer then his store.
But let me not upon my love bestow
What is not worth the giving. I do ow
Somwhat to dust: my bodies pamper'd care
Hungry corruption and the worm will share.
That mouldring relick which in earth must lie
Would prove a gift of horrour to thine eie.
With this cast ragge of my mortalitie
Let all my faults and errours buried be.
And as my sear-cloth rots, so may kind fate
Those worst acts of my life incinerate.
He shall in story fill a glorious room
Whose ashes and whose sins sleep in one Tomb.
If now to my cold hearse thou deign to bring
Some melting sighs as thy last offering,
My peacefull exequies are crown'd. Nor shall
I ask more honour at my Funerall.
Thou wilt more richly balm me with thy tears
Then all the Nard fragrant Arabia bears.
And as the Paphian Queen by her griefs show'r
Brought up her dead Loves Spirit in a flow'r:
So by those precious drops rain'd from thine eies,
Out of my dust, O may some vertue rise!
And like thy better Genius thee attend,
Till thou in my dark Period shalt end.
Lastly, my constant truth let me commend
To him thou choosest next to be thy friend.
For (witness all things good) I would not have
Thy Youth and Beauty married to my grave,
'Twould shew thou didst repent the style of wife
Should'st thou relapse into a single life.
They with preposterous grief the world delude
Who mourn for their lost Mates in solitude;
Since Widdowhood more strongly doth enforce
The much lamented lot of their divorce.
Themselves then of their losses guilty are
Who may, yet will not suffer a repaire.
Those were Barbarian wives that did invent
Weeping to death at th' Husbands Monument,
But in more civil Rites She doth approve
Her first, who ventures on a second Love;
For else it may be thought, if She refrain,
She sped so ill Shee durst not trie again.
Up then my Love, and choose some worthier one
Who may supply my room when I am gone;
So will the stock of our affection thrive
No less in death, then were I still alive.
And in my urne I shall rejoyce, that I
Am both Testatour thus and Legacie.

Henry King, Bishop of Chichester

Henry King, Bishop of Chichester's other poems:
  1. Sonnet. VVere thy heart soft as thou art faire
  2. Madam Gabrina, Or The Ill-Favourd Choice
  3. On the Earl of Essex
  4. The Labyrinth
  5. Sonnet. Tell me you stars that our affections move

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • John Donne The Legacy ("When I died last, and, Dear, I die")

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    The Last Poems

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