Poetical Works of John Oldham/On the Death of Mrs. Katharine Kingscourt
ON THE DEATH OF MRS. KATHARINE KINGSCOURT,
A CHILD OF EXCELLENT PARTS AND PIETY.
SHE did, she did—I saw her mount the sky,
And with new whiteness paint the galaxy.
Heaven her methought with all its eyes did view,
And yet acknowledged all its eyes too few.
Methought I saw in crowds blessed spirits meet,
And with loud welcomes her arrival greet,
Which, could they grieve, had gone with grief away,
To see a soul more white, more pure than they.
Earth was unworthy such a prize as this,
Only a while Heaven let us share the bliss;
In vain her stay with fruitless tears we'd woo,
In vain we'd court, when that our rival grew.
Thanks, ye kind powers! who did so long dispense
(Since you so wished her) with her absence thence:
We now resign, to you alone we grant
The sweet monopoly of such a saint;
So pure a saint, I scarce dare call her so,
For fear to wrong her with a name too low;
Such a seraphic brightness in her shined,
I hardly can believe her womankind.
'Twas sure some noble being left the sphere,
Which deigned a little to inhabit here,
And can't be said to die, but disappear.
Or if she mortal was, and meant to show
The greater skill by being made below,
Sure Heaven preserved her by the fell uncursed,
To tell how all the sex were formed at first.
Never did yet so much divinity
In such a small compendium crowded lie.
By her we credit what the learnèd tell,
That many angels on one point can dwell.
More damnèd fiends did not in Mary rest,
Than lodged of blessed spirits in her breast;
Religion dawned so early in her mind,
You'd think her saint whilst in the womb enshrined;
Nay, that bright ray which did her temples paint,
Proclaimed her clearly, while alive, a saint.
Scarce had she learned to lisp religion's name,
Ere she by her example preached the same,
And taught her cradle like the pulpit to reclaim.
No action did within her practice fall
Which for the atonement of a blush could call;
No words of hers e'er greeted any ear,
But what a dying saint, confessed, might hear.
Her thoughts had scarcely ever sullied been
By the least footsteps of original sin.
Her life did still as much devotion breathe,
As others do at their last gasp in death.
Hence, on her tomb, of her let not be said,
So long she lived, but thus—So long she prayed!