Epitaph

By Katherine Philips 1631–1664 Katherine Philips

On her Son H.P. at St. Syth’s Church where her body also lies interred

What on Earth deserves our trust?
Youth and Beauty both are dust.
Long we gathering are with pain,
What one moment calls again.
Seven years childless marriage past,
A Son, a son is born at last:
So exactly lim’d and fair,
Full of good Spirits, Meen, and Air,
As a long life promised,
Yet, in less than six weeks dead.
Too promising, too great a mind
In so small room to be confined:
Therefore, as fit in Heaven to dwell,
He quickly broke the Prison shell.
So the subtle Alchemist,
Can’t with Hermes Seal resist
The powerful spirit’s subtler flight,
But t’will bid him long good night.
And so the Sun if it arise
Half so glorious as his Eyes,
Like this Infant, takes a shrowd,
Buried in a morning Cloud.

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Poet Katherine Philips 1631–1664

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Death, Parenthood

Occasions Funerals

Poetic Terms Elegy, Couplet

 Katherine  Philips

Biography

One of the first women to acquire fame as a writer in England, Katherine Philips addressed poems of love and companionship to the women in her circle, called “Society of Friendship.” She was known as “The Matchless Orinda” for the pseudonym she adopted within the group and as “the English Sappho” for her similarities to the ancient Greek poetess of Lesbos.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Death, Parenthood

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Elegy, Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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