By John Milton, 1630*
What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones,
The labor of an age in pilèd stones,
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Thou in our wonder and astonishmentHast built thyself a live-long monument.
Dear son of Memory, great heir of fame,
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a live-long monument.
For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
* Milton wrote this poem in 1630, but it was not published until it appeared in print in the Second Folio in 1632. This was Milton's first published poem. In the Second Folio, it was titled, “An Epitaph on the admirable Dramaticke Poet, W.Shakespeare,” but it was not credited to Milton.