219. The Shrouding of the Duchess of Malfi

John Webster. ?-1630?

HARK! Now everything is still,
The screech-owl and the whistler shrill,
Call upon our dame aloud,
And bid her quickly don her shroud!

Much you had of land and rent;
Your length in clay 's now competent:
A long war disturb'd your mind;
Here your perfect peace is sign'd.

Of what is 't fools make such vain keeping?
Sin their conception, their birth weeping,
Their life a general mist of error,
Their death a hideous storm of terror.
Strew your hair with powders sweet,
Don clean linen, bathe your feet,

And--the foul fiend more to check--
A crucifix let bless your neck:
'Tis now full tide 'tween night and day;
End your groan and come away.

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