Vpon The Death Of His Incomparable Friend Sir Henry Raynsford Of Clifford

A poem by Michael Drayton

Could there be words found to expresse my losse,
There were some hope, that this my heauy crosse
Might be sustained, and that wretched I
Might once finde comfort: but to haue him die
Past all degrees that was so deare to me;
As but comparing him with others, hee
Was such a thing, as if some Power should say
I'le take Man on me, to shew men the way
What a friend should be. But words come so short
Of him, that when I thus would him report,
I am vndone, and hauing nought to say,
Mad at my selfe, I throwe my penne away,
And beate my breast, that there should be a woe
So high, that words cannot attaine thereto.
T'is strange that I from my abundant breast,
Who others sorrowes haue so well exprest:
Yet I by this in little time am growne
So poore, that I want to expresse mine owne.
I thinke the Fates perceiuing me to beare
My worldly crosses without wit or feare:
Nay, with what scorne I euer haue derided,
Those plagues that for me they haue oft prouided,
Drew them to counsaile; nay, conspired rather,
And in this businesse laid their heads together
To finde some one plague, that might me subuert,
And at an instant breake my stubborne heart;
They did indeede, and onely to this end
They tooke from me this more then man, or friend.
Hard-hearted Fates, your worst thus haue you done,
Then let vs see what lastly you haue wonne
By this your rigour, in a course so strict,
Why see, I beare all that you can inflict:
And hee from heauen your poore reuenge to view;
Laments my losse of him, but laughes at you,
Whilst I against you execrations breath;
Thus are you scorn'd aboue, and curst beneath.
Me thinks that man (vnhappy though he be)
Is now thrice happy in respect of me,
Who hath no friend; for that in hauing none
He is not stirr'd as I am, to bemone
My miserable losse, who but in vaine,
May euer looke to find the like againe.
This more then mine own selfe; that who had seene
His care of me where euer I had beene,
And had not knowne his actiue spirit before,
Vpon some braue thing working euermore:
He would haue sworne that to no other end
He had been borne: but onely for my friend.
I had been happy if nice Nature had
(Since now my lucke falls out to be so bad)
Made me vnperfect, either of so soft
And yeelding temper, that lamenting oft,
I into teares my mournefull selfe might melt;
Or else so dull, my losse not to haue felt.
I haue by my too deare experience bought,
That fooles and mad men, whom I euer thought
The most vnhappy, are in deede not so:
And therefore I lesse pittie can bestowe
(Since that my sence, my sorrowe so can sound)
On those in Bedlam that are bound,
And scarce feele scourging; and when as I meete
A foole by Children followed in the Streete,
Thinke I (poor wretch) thou from my griefe art free,
Nor couldst thou feele it, should it light on thee;
But that I am a Christian, and am taught
By him who with his precious bloud me bought,
Meekly like him my crosses to endure,
Else would they please me well, that for their cure,
When as they feele their conscience doth them brand,
Vpon themselues dare lay a violent hand;
Not suffering Fortune with her murdering knife,
Stand like a Surgeon working on the life,
Deserting this part, that ioynt off to cut,
Shewing that Artire, ripping then that gut,
Whilst the dull beastly World with her squint eye,
Is to behold the strange Anatomie.
I am persuaded that those which we read
To be man-haters, were not so indeed,
The Athenian Timon, and beside him more
Of which the Latines, as the Greekes haue store;
Nor not did they all humane manners hate,
Nor yet maligne mans dignity and state.
But finding our fraile life how euery day,
It like a bubble vanisheth away:
For this condition did mankinde detest,
Farre more incertaine then that of the beast.
Sure heauen doth hate this world and deadly too,
Else as it hath done it would neuer doe,
For if it did not, it would ne're permit
A man of so much vertue, knowledge, wit,
Of naturall goodnesse, supernaturall grace,
Whose courses when considerately I trace
Into their ends, and diligently looke,
They serue me for Oeconomike booke.
By which this rough world I not onely stemme,
In goodnesse but grow learn'd by reading them.
O pardon me, it my much sorrow is,
Which makes me vse this long Parenthesis;
Had heauen this world not hated as I say,
In height of life it had not, tane away
A spirit so braue, so actiue, and so free,
That such a one who would not wish to bee,
Rather then weare a Crowne, by Armes though got,
So fast a friend, so true a Patriot.
In things concerning both the worlds so wise,
Besides so liberall of his faculties,
That where he would his industrie bestowe,
He would haue done, e're one could think to doe.
No more talke of the working of the Starres,
For plenty, scarcenesse, or for peace, or Warres:
They are impostures, therefore get you hence
With all your Planets, and their influence.
No more doe I care into them to looke,
Then in some idle Chiromantick booke,
Shewing the line of life, and Venus mount,
Nor yet no more would I of them account,
Then what that tells me, since what that so ere
Might promise man long life: of care and feare,
By nature freed, a conscience cleare, and quiet,
His health, his constitution, and his diet;
Counting a hundred, fourscore at the least,
Propt vp by prayers, yet more to be encreast,
All these should faile, and in his fiftieth yeare
He should expire, henceforth let none be deare,
To me at all, lest for my haplesse sake,
Before their time heauen from the world them take,
And leaue me wretched to lament their ends
As I doe his, who was a thousand friends.

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