Vpon The Three Sonnes Of The Lord Sheffield, Drowned In Hvmber

A poem by Michael Drayton

Light Sonnets hence, and to loose Louers flie,
And mournfull Maydens sing an Elegie
On those three SHEFFIELDS, ouer-whelm'd with waues,
Whose losse the teares of all the Muses craues;
A thing so full of pitty as this was,
Me thinkes for nothing should not slightly passe.
Treble this losse was, why should it not borrowe,
Through this Iles treble parts, a treble sorrowe:
But Fate did this, to let the world to knowe,
That sorrowes which from common causes growe,
Are not worth mourning for, the losse to beare,
But of one onely sonne, 's not worth one teare.
Some tender-hearted man, as I, may spend
Some drops (perhaps) for a deceased friend.
Some men (perhaps) their Wifes late death may rue;
Or Wifes their Husbands, but such be but fewe.
Cares that haue vs'd the hearts of men to tuch
So oft, and deepely, will not now be such;
Who'll care for loss of maintenance, or place,
Fame, liberty, or of the Princes grace;
Or sutes in law, by base corruption crost,
When he shall finde, that this which he hath lost,
Alas, is nothing to his, which did lose,
Three sonnes at once so excellent as those:
Nay, it is feard that this in time may breed
Hard hearts in men to their owne naturall seed;
That in respect of this great losse of theirs,
Men will scarce mourne the death of their owne heires.
Through all this Ile their losse so publique is,
That euery man doth take them to be his,
And as a plague which had beginning there,
So catching is, and raigning euery where,
That those the farthest off as much doe rue them,
As those the most familiarly that knew them;
Children with this disaster are wext sage,
And like to men that strucken are in age;
Talke what it is, three children at one time
Thus to haue drown'd, and in their very prime;
Yea, and doe learne to act the same so well,
That then olde folke, they better can it tell.
Inuention, oft that Passion vs'd to faine,
In sorrowes of themselves but slight, and meane,
To make them seeme great, here it shall not need,
For that this Subiect doth so farre exceed
All forc'd Expression, that what Poesie shall
Happily thinke to grace it selfe withall,
Falls so belowe it, that it rather borrowes
Grace from their griefe, then addeth to their sorrowes,
For sad mischance thus in the losse of three,
To shewe it selfe the vtmost it could bee:
Exacting also by the selfe same lawe,
The vtmost teares that sorrowe had to drawe
All future times hath vtterly preuented
Of a more losse, or more to be lamented.
Whilst in faire youth they liuely flourish'd here,
To their kinde Parents they were onely deere:
But being dead, now euery one doth take
Them for their owne, and doe like sorrowe make:
As for their owne begot, as they pretended
Hope in the issue, which should haue discended
From them againe; nor here doth end our sorrow,
But those of vs, that shall be borne to morrowe
Still shall lament them, and when time shall count,
To what vast number passed yeares shall mount,
They from their death shall duly reckon so,
As from the Deluge, former vs'd to doe.
O cruell Humber guilty of their gore,
I now beleeue more then I did before
The Brittish Story, whence thy name begun
Of Kingly Humber, an inuading Hun,
By thee deuoured, for't is likely thou
With blood wert Christned, bloud-thirsty till now.
The Ouse, the Done, and thou farre clearer Trent,
To drowne the SHEFFIELDS as you gaue consent,
Shall curse the time, that ere you were infus'd,
Which haue your waters basely thus abus'd.
The groueling Boore yee hinder not to goe,
And at his pleasure Ferry to and fro.
The very best part of whose soule, and bloud,
Compared with theirs, is viler then your mud.
But wherefore paper, doe I idely spend,
On those deafe waters to so little end,
And vp to starry heauen doe I not looke,
In which, as in an euerlasting booke,
Our ends are written; O let times rehearse
Their fatall losse, in their sad Aniuerse.

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