Welcome back to our final poem in this
eleventh season of the Well-Read Poem! In this series we have been
reading poems about writers, by writers, some of them well-known,
some of them not as well known. Our aim in this season is to give
listeners some insight into the lives, minds, and imaginations of
authors long deceased, and some understanding of what they have
meant to their fellow scribes.
Today's poem is “On Shakespeare, 1630” by
John Milton. Poem begins at timestamp 5:17.
What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones,
The labor of an age in pilèd stones,
Or that his hallowed relics should be
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
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
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression
Then thou, our fancy of itself
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.