Discussing Katherine Philips’ poem with Sophie Ratcliffe
On the Death of my First and Dearest Child, Hector Philips, born the 23rd of April, and died the 2nd of May 1655Twice forty months in wedlock I did stay,
Then had my vows crowned with a lovely boy.
And yet in forty days he dropped away;
O swift vicissitude of human joy!I did but see him, and he disappeared,
I did but touch the rosebud, and it fell;
A sorrow unforeseen and scarcely feared,
So ill can mortals their afflictions spell.And now (sweet babe) what can my trembling heart
Suggest to right my doleful fate or thee?
Tears are my muse, and sorrow all my art,
So piercing groans must be thy elegy.Thus whilst no eye is witness of my moan,
I grieve thy loss (ah, boy too dear to live!)
And let the unconcerned world alone,
Who neither will, nor can refreshment give.An offering too for thy sad tomb I have,
Too just a tribute to thy early hearse;
Receive these gasping numbers to thy grave,
The last of thy unhappy mother’s verse.Katherine Philips (1632 – 1664)
Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing
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