A Funeral Elegy
On the Death of the Famous Actor, Richard Burbage,
Some skilful limner help me! If not so,
Some sad tragedian to express my woe!
Alas! he’s gone, that could the best, both limn
And act my grief; and ’tis for only him
That I invoke this strange assistance to it,
And on the point invoke himself to do it;
For none but Tully Tully’s praise can tell,
And no man act a grief, or act so well.
He’s gone, and with him what a world are dead,
Friends, every one, and what a blank instead!
Take him for all in all, he was a man
Not to be match’d, and no age ever can.
No more young Hamlet, though but scant of breath,
Shall cry “Revenge!” for his dear father’s death.
Poor Romeo never more shall tears beget
For Juliet’s love and cruel Capulet:
Harry shall not be seen as king or prince,
They died with thee, dear Dick, [and not long since]
Not to revive again….
Tyrant Macbeth, with unwash’d, bloody hand,
We vainly now may hope to understand.
Brutus and Marcius henceforth must be dumb,
For ne’er thy like upon the stage shall come,
To charm the faculty of ears and eyes,
Unless we could command the dead to rise.
Vindex is gone, and what a loss was he!
Frankford, Brachiano, and Malevole.
Heart-broke Philaster, and Amintas too,
Are lost for ever; with the red-hair’ d Jew,
Which sought the bankrupt merchant’s pound of flesh,
By woman-lawyer caught in his own mesh.
What a wide world was in that little space,
Thyself a world the Globe thy fittest place!
Thy stature small, but every thought and mood
Might throughly from thy face be understood;
And his whole action he could change with ease
From ancient Lear to youthful Pericles.
But let me not forget one chiefest part,
Wherein, beyond the rest, he mov’d the heart;
The grieved Moor, made jealous by a slave,
Who sent his wife to fill a timeless grave,
Then slew himself upon the bloody bed.
All these and many more are with him dead.
Hereafter must our Poets cease to write.
Since thou art gone, dear Dick, a tragic night
Will wrap our black-hung stage: he made a Poet,
And those who yet remain full surely know it,
For, having Burbage to give forth each line,
It fill’d their brain with fury more divine.
Oft have I seen him leap into the grave,
Suiting the person, which he seem’d to have,
Of a mad lover, with so true an eye,
That there I would have sworn he meant to die.
….And now, dear Earth, that must enshrine that dust,
By heaven now committed to thy trust,
Keep it as precious as the richest mine
That lies entomb’d in that rich womb of thine,
That after times may know that much lov’d mould
From other dust, and cherish it as gold:
On it be laid some soft but lasting stone,
With this short epitaph endors’d thereon,
That every eye may read, and reading, weep
‘Tis England’s Roscius, Burbage, that I Keep.