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On Shakespeare reflects John Milton's regard for the one most considered to be the greatest of English writers who died when young John was but eight years old. Milton always wanted to contribute to the posterity of literature himself and one could imagine that he hoped for such a poetic honor to follow his legacy.


ON SHAKESPEARE

What needs my Shakespeare for his honored
       bones
The labor of an age in piléd stones?
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing {sic} pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy
       name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Has built thyself a livelong monument.
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavoring
       art,
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression
       took,
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiv-
       ing,
And so sepúlchered in such pomp dost lie
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

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