On the Death of the Queen of Bohemia

Katherine Philips

Edited by Jack Lynch

The text comes from Philips’s Poems by the Most Deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the Matchless Orinda (1667). I’ve emended hear in the first line to read heat.

Although the most do with officious heat
Only adore the Living and the Great;
Yet this Queen’s Merits Fame so far hath spread,
That she rules still, though dispossest and dead.
For losing one, two other Crowns remain’d; [5]
Over all hearts and her own griefs she reign’d.
Two Thrones so splendid, as to none are less
But to that third which she does now possess.
Her Heart and Birth Fortune so well did know,
That seeking her own fame in such a Foe, [10]
She drest the spacious Theatre for the sight,
And the admiring World call’d to the sight:
An Army then of mighty Sorrows brought,
Who all against this single Vertue sought;
And sometimes stratagems, and sometimes blows [15]
To her Heroick Soul they did oppose:
But at her feet their vain attempts did fall,
And she discover’d and subdu’d them all.
Till Fortune weary of her malice grew,
Became her Captive and her Trophee too: [20]
And by too late a Tribute begg’d t’ have been
Admitted subject to so brave a Queen.
But as some Hero who a field hath wone,
Viewing the things he had so greatly done;
When by his spirit’s flight he finds that he [25]
With his own Life must buy his Victory,
He makes the slaughter’d heap that next him lies
His Funeral Pile, and then in triumph dies:
So fell this Royal Dame, with conquering spent,
And left in every breast her monument; [30]
Wherein so high an Epitaph is writ,
As I must never dare to copy it.
But that bright Angel which did on her wait,
In fifty years contention with her fate,
And in that office did with wonder see [35]
How great her troubles, how much greater she;
How she maintain’d her best Prerogative,
In keeping still the power to Forgive:
How high she did in her Devotion go,
And how her Condescention stoop’d as low; [40]
With how much Glory she had ever been
A Daughter, Sister, Mother, Wife, and Queen;
Will sure employ some deathless Muse to tell
Our children this instructive Miracle,
Who may her sad Illustrious Life recite, [45]
And after all her Wrongs may do her right.