Written In The Beginning Of Mezeray's History Of France

A poem by Matthew Prior

Whate'er thy countrymen have done
By law and wit, by sword and gun,
In thee is faithfully recited,
And all the living world that view
Thy work, give thee the praises due
At once instructed and delighted.

Yet for the fame of all these deeds
What beggar in the invalids,
With lameness broke, with blindness smitten,
Wish'd ever decently to die,
To have been either Mezeray,
Or any Monarch he has written?

It's strange, dear Author, yet it true is,
That down from Pharamond to Louis
All covet life, yet call it pain,
And feel the ill, yet shun the cure:
Can sense this paradox endure?
Resolve me, Cambray, or Fontaine.

The man in graver tragic known
(Though his best part long since was done)
Still on the stage desires to tarry,
And he who play'd the Harlequin,
After the jest still loads the scene,
Unwilling to retire though weary.

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