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Epitaph on Elizabeth, L. H. by Ben Jonson

Analysis

This is a poem written about the death of Elizabeth. It is written as a epigram in rhyming couplet elegy. The woman in question cannot be identified (first thought might be that it is about the Queen, but it is not). The epitaph is considered as one of Jonson's finest lyrics.

Isn't that funny? One of a great poet's finest works is about someone's death. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. It's great that it pays tribute to someone, but death and best are two things which shouldn't go together in my opinion.

Poem

Epitaph on Elizabeth, L. H.
By 

Wouldst thou hear what man can say
  In a little? Reader, stay.
Underneath this stone doth lie
  As much beauty as could die;
Which in life did harbor give
  To more virture than doth live.

If at all she had a fault,
  Leave it buried in this vault.
One name was Elizabeth,
  Th' other let it sleep with death;
Fitter, where it died to tell,
  Than that it lived at all. Farewell.

Published in .

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