O Youths And Virgins

A poem by Mark Akenside

O youths and virgins: o declining eld:
O pale misfortune's slaves: o ye who dwell
Unknown with humble quiet; ye who wait
In courts, or fill the golden seat of kings:
O sons of sport and pleasure: o thou wretch
That weep'st for jealous love, or the sore wounds
Of conscious guilt, or death's rapacious hand
Which left thee void of hope: o ye who roam
In exile; ye who through the embattled field
Seek bright renown; or who for nobler palms
Contend, the leaders of a public cause;
Approach: behold this marble. Know ye not
The features? Hath not oft his faithful tongue
Told you the fashion of your own estate,
The secrets of your bosom? Here then, round
His monument with reverence while ye stand,
Say to each other: "This was Shakespeare's form;
"Who walk'd in every path of human life,
"Felt every passion; and to all mankind
"Doth now, will ever, that experience yield
"Which his own genius only could acquire."

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