To the Memory of the Deceased Author, Master W. Shakespeare

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To the Memory of the Deceased Author, Master W. Shakespeare
by Leonard Digges
Prefatory poem in Shakespeare's First Folio (1623)

Shakespeare, at length thy pious fellows give

The world thy works. Thy works, by which, out-live

Thy tomb, thy name must. When that stone is rent

And time dissolves thy Stratford monument,

Here we alive shall view thee still. This book,

When brass and marble fade, shall make thee look

Fresh to all ages. When posterity

Shall loathe what's new, think all is protege

That is not Shakespeare’s, every line, each verse

Here shall revive, redeem thee from thy hearse.

Nor fire, nor cankering age, as Naso[1] said,

Of his, thy wit-fraught book shall once invade.

Nor shall I e're believe, or think thee dead.

(Though missed) until our bankrout[2] stage be sped

(Imposible!) with some new strain t'out-do

Passions of Juliet, and her Romeo;

Or till I hear a scene more nobly take,

Than when thy half-sword parlaying Romans spake.

Till these, till any of thy volumes rest

Shall with more fire, more feeling be expressed,

Be sure, our Shakespeare, thou canst never die,

But crowned with laurel, live eternally.


  1. Ovid.
  2. Bankrupt.