John Webster

Here you will find the Long Poem A Monumental Column of poet John Webster

A Monumental Column


My right noble lord, 

I present to your voidest leisure of survey these few sparks found out in our most glorious prince his ashes. I could not have thought this worthy your view, but that it aims at the preservation of his fame, than which I know not anything (but the sacred lives of both their majesties and their sweet issue) that can be dearer unto you. Were my whole life turned into leisure, and that leisure accompanied with all the Muses, it were not able to draw a map large enough of him; for his praise is an high-going sea that wants both shore and bottom. Neither do I, my noble lord, present you with this night-piece to make his death-bed still float in those compassionate rivers of your eyes: you have already, with much lead upon your heart, sounded both the sorrow royal and your own. O, that care should ever attain to so ambitious a title! Only, here though I dare not say you shall find him live, for that assurance were worth many kingdoms, yet you shall perceive him draw a little breath, such as gives us comfort his critical day is past, and the glory of a new life risen, neither subject to physic nor fortune. For my defects in this undertaking, my wish presents itself with that of Martial's; 

O utinam mores animumque effingere possem! 
Pulchrior in terris nulla tabella foret. 

Howsoever, your protection is able to give it noble lustre, and bind me by that honourable courtesy to be ever 

Your honour's truly devoted servant, 




The greatest of the kingly race is gone, 
Yet with so great a reputation 
Laid in the earth, we cannot say he's dead, 
But as a perfect diamond set in lead, 
Scorning our foil, his glories do break forth, 
Worn by his maker, who best knew his worth. 
Yet to our fleshy eyes there does belong 
That which we think helps grief, a passionate tongue: 
Methinks I see men's hearts pant in their lips; 
We should not grieve at the bright sun's eclipse, 
But that we love his light: so travellers stray, 
Wanting both guide and conduct of the day. 
Nor let us strive to make this sorrow old; 
For wounds smart most when that the blood grows cold. 
If princes think that ceremony meet, 
To have their corpse embalm'd to keep them sweet, 
Much more they ought to have their fame exprest 
In Homer, though it want Darius' chest: 
To adorn which in her deserved throne, 
I bring those colours which Truth calls her own. 
Nor gain nor praise by my weak lines are sought: 
Love that's born free cannot be hir'd nor bought. 
Some great inquisitors in nature say, 
Royal and generous forms sweetly display 
Much of the heavenly virtue, as proceeding 
From a pure essence and elected breeding: 
Howe'er, truth for him thus nuch doth importune, 
His form and value both deserv'd his fortune; 
For 'tis a question not decided yet, 
Whether his mind or fortune were more great. 
Methought I saw him in his right hand wield 
A caduceus, in th' other Pallas' shield: 
His mind quite void of ostentation, 
His high-erected thoughts look'd down upon 
The smiling valley of his fruitful heart: 
Honour and courtesy in every part 
Proclaim'd him, and grew lovely in each limb: 
He well became those virtues which grac'd him. 
He spread his bounty with a provident hand, 
And not like those that sow th' ingrateful sand: 
His rewards follow'd reason, ne'er were plac'd 
For ostentation; and to make them last, 
He was not like the mad and thriftless vine 
That spendeth all her blushes at one time, 
But like the orange-tree his fruits he bore,- 
Some gather'd, he had green, and blossoms store. 
We hop'd much of him, till death made hope err: 
We stood as in some spacious theatre, 
Musing what would become of him, his flight 
Reach'd such a noble pitch above our sight; 
Whilst he discreetly-wise this rule had won, 
Not to let fame know his intents till done. 
Men came to his court as to bright academies 
Of virtue and of valour: all the eyes, 
That feasted at his princely exercise, 
Thought that by day Mars held his lance, by night 
Minerva bore a torch to give him light. 
As once on Rhodes, Pindar reports, of old 
Soldiers expected 't would have rain'd down gold, 
Old husbandmen i' the country gan to plant 
Laurel instead of elm, and made their vaunt 
Their sons and daughters should such trophies wear 
Whenas the prince return'd a conqueror 
From foreign nations; for men thought his star 
Had mark'd him for a just and glorious war. 
And, sure, his thoughts were ours: he could not read 
Edward the Black Prince's life but it must breed 
A virtuous emu