William Cowper

26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire

Elegy Ii. On The Death Of The University Beadle At Cambridge (Translated From Milton)

Thee, whose refulgent staff and summons clear,
Minerva's flock longtime was wont t'obey,
Although thyself an herald, famous here,
The last of heralds, Death, has snatch'd away.
He calls on all alike, nor even deigns
To spare the office that himself sustains.

Thy locks were whiter than the plumes display'd
By Leda's paramour in ancient time,
But thou wast worthy ne'er to have decay'd,
Or, Aeson-like, to know a second prime,
Worthy for whom some Goddess should have won
New life, oft kneeling to Apollo's son.

Commission'd to convene with hasty call
The gowned tribes, how graceful wouldst thou stand!
So stood Cyllenius erst in Priam's hall,
Wing-footed messenger of Jove's command,
And so, Eurybates when he address'd
To Peleus' son Atrides' proud behest.

Dread Queen of sepulchres! whose rig'rous laws
And watchful eyes, run through the realms below,
Oh, oft too adverse to Minerva's cause,
Too often to the Muse not less a foe,
Chose meaner marks, and with more equal aim
Pierce useless drones, earth's burthen and its shame!

Flow, therefore, tears for Him from ev'ry eye,
All ye disciples of the Muses, weep!
Assembling, all, in robes of sable dye,
Around his bier, lament his endless sleep,
And let complaining Elegy rehearse
In every School her sweetest saddest verse.
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