Sunday, June 5, 2011

Elegies for Francis Bacon

Here are a couple of elegies (out of over 30) written after Francis Bacon's death in 1626.

At Threnody on the Death of the Most Illustrious and Renowned Personage, Sir Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam.    [Note: A threnody is a song or hymn of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person].

    "Muses pour forth your perennial waters in lamentations, and let Apollo shed tears (plentiful as the water) which even the Castalian stream contains; for neither would meagre dirges befit so great a loss, nor our moderate drops the mighty monument. The very nerve of genius, the marrow of persuasion, the golden stream of eloquence, the precious gem of concealed literature, the noble Bacon (ah! the relentless warp of the three sisters) has fallen by the fates. O how am I in verse like mine to commemorate you, sublime Bacon! and those glorious memorials of all the ages composed by your genius and by Minerva. With what learned, beautiful, profound matters the Great Instauration is full! With what light does it scatter the darksome moths of the ancient sages! creating from chaos a new wisdom: thus God Himself will with potent hand restore the body laid in the tomb; therefore you do not die (O Bacon !) for the Great Instauration will liberate you from death and darkness and the grave."
    R. C., T. C.

Note: Apollo--As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musagetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry..

The Castalian Spring was where Roman poets came to receive poetic inspiration.

Notice also the reference to Minerva (Pallas Athena- the "Spear Shaker")

. . On the Death of the Right Honourable Lord Francis Bacon of Verulam,
     Viscount St. Albans, Late Chancellor of England.

" .... The pole of the literary globe is dislocated, where with equal earnestness he adorned the garb of a citizen and the robe of state. As Eurydice (wife of Orpheus) wandering through the shades of Dis (Greek God Pluto) longed to caress Orpheus, so did Philosophy entangled in the subtleties of Schoolmen seek Bacon as a deliverer, with such winged hand as Orpheus (Chief among poets) lightly touched the lyre's strings, the Styx before scarce ruffled now at last bounding, with like hand stroked Philosophy raised high her crest; nor did he with workmanship of fussy meddlers patch, but he renovated her (Philosophy) walking lowly in the shoes of Comedy. After that more elaborately he rises on the loftier tragic buskin, and the Stagirite (like) Virbius comes to life again in Novum Organurn"?

[note: The sock and buskin are two ancient symbols of comedy and tragedy. In Greek theatre, actors in tragic roles wore a boot called a buskin that elevated them above the other actors. The actors with comedic roles only wore a thin soled shoe called a sock.]

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