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A FUNEREAL POEM BY R. H. ON THE DEATH OF THAT RIGHT LEARNED MAN, THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER SPENSER
Our hearts are tormented by weary grief. Apollo, can you pour forth song amidst such grief, if your measures will square with our mournfully-sounding plaints, to complain of hateful death’s bloodied weapons? Our pious Spenser has experienced its loathed darts, triumphant Spenser has suffered death’s savage woundings. As he lay a-dying, Christ the Healer, Christ the death of death, maintained his courage. You who remain alive in this wretched light, do you fancy you can survive and surmount death? Why does pride swell up because of a comely frame? Beauty with its pride cannot overcome death’s weapons. Or, sir, do you trust in the strength of your sinews? Thus far, no man has broken death’s chains with his strength. Does fatal money guarantee lengthy days? Money itself has no power to exempt you. Does soft pleasure tickle your unwholesome heart? Even when zealously pursued, pleasure is of no avail for your life. Are you distinguished by the coat of arms of an ancient house? Nobility of pedigree counts for nothing compared to the armaments of death. Magnificent learning cannot contain the far-ranging mind so that it is always pent up in its prison, nor does divine wisdom conquer savage death: rather, it paves the way to death. Thus earnest meditation on coming death opened death’s doors for you, Spenser. So let this meditation, not uprightness of life, maintain the subtle vents by which we imbibe the life of the spirit, so what is the power of that? When it ponders the guaranteed joys of the life to come, the pious mind disdains our short life in this world. Thus divine worship dwelt in your heart, Spenser, so that at all times you were ready to die. We should not mark your death in sorrowful verse, for your death turns all this evil against ourselves. When a distinguished master of a noble art is lost, it is rather this house that should mourn its shattered hope. He is not mourning in heaven, he is incapable of suffering. For, although this bier contains his dead limbs, his living soul is borne to the stars. Therefore we justly lament our friend, bereft of the light, for Spenser was ever a friend to good men.