Ben Jonson

B
Ben Jonson
Ode to Himself “Come leave the loathéd stage”
Come leave the loathéd stage,
And the more loathsome age,
Where pride and impudence in faction knit
Usurp the chair of wit,
Indicting and arraigning, every day,
Something they call a play.
Let their fastidious, vain
Commission of the brain
Run on, and rage, sweat, censure, and condemn:
They were not made for thee, less thou for them.

Say that thou pour’st ’em wheat,
And they would acorns eat;
‘Twere simple fury, still thyself to waste
On such as have no taste;
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An Elegy
Though beauty be the mark of praise,
And yours of whom I sing be such
As not the world can praise too much,
Yet ’tis your virtue now I raise.

A virtue, like allay, so gone
Throughout your form, as, though that move
And draw and conquer all men’s love,
This sùbjects you to love of one.

Wherein you triumph yet; because
’Tis of yourself, and that you use
The noblest freedom, not to choose
Against or faith or honor’s laws.

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Inviting a Friend to Supper
Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house, and I
Do equally desire your company;
Not that we think us worthy such a guest,
But that your worth will dignify our feast
With those that come, whose grace may make that seem
Something, which else could hope for no esteem.
It is the fair acceptance, sir, creates
The entertainment perfect, not the cates.
Yet shall you have, to rectify your palate,
An olive, capers, or some better salad
Ushering the mutton; with a short-legged hen,
If we can get her, full of eggs, and then
Lemons, and wine for sauce; to these a cony
Is not to be despaired of, for our money;
And, though fowl now be scarce, yet there are clerks,
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On English Monsieur
Would you believe, when you this monsieur see,
That his whole body should speak French, not he?
That so much scarf of France, and hat, and feather,
And shoe, and tie, and garter should come hether,
And land on one whose face durst never be
Toward the sea farther than Half-Way Tree?
That he, untraveled, should be French so much
As Frenchmen in his company should seem Dutch?
Or had his father, when he did him get,
The French disease, with which he labors yet?
Or hung some monsieur’s picture on the wall,
By which his dam conceived him, clothes and all?
Or is it some French statue? No: ’T doth move,
And stoop, and cringe. O then, it needs must prove
The new French tailor’s motion, monthly made,
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On Gut
Gut eats all day and lechers all the night;
So all his meat he tasteth over twice;
And, striving so to double his delight,
He makes himself a thoroughfare of vice.
Thus in his belly can he change a sin:
Lust it comes out, that gluttony went in.
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On My First Daughter
Here lies, to each her parents’ ruth,
Mary, the daughter of their youth;
Yet all heaven’s gifts being heaven’s due,
It makes the father less to rue.
At six months’ end she parted hence
With safety of her innocence;
Whose soul heaven’s queen, whose name she bears,
In comfort of her mother’s tears,
Hath placed amongst her virgin-train:
Where, while that severed doth remain,
This grave partakes the fleshly birth;
Which cover lightly, gentle earth!
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On Playwright
Playwright, convict of public wrongs to men,
Takes private beatings and begins again.
Two kinds of valor he doth show at once:
Active in ’s brain, and passive in his bones.

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On Spies
Spies, you are lights in state, but of base stuff,
Who, when you’ve burnt yourselves down to the snuff,
Stink and are thrown away. End fair enough.
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Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount
Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
Yet slower, yet, O faintly, gentle springs!
List to the heavy part the music bears,
Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
Droop herbs and flowers;
Fall grief in showers;
Our beauties are not ours.
O, I could still,
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Song: to Celia Come, my Celia, let us prove
Come, my Celia, let us prove,
While we can, the sports of love;
Time will not be ours forever;
He at length our good will sever.
Spend not then his gifts in vain.
Suns that set may rise again;
But if once we lose this light,
’Tis with us perpetual night.
Why should we defer our joys?
Fame and rumor are but toys.
Cannot we delude the eyes
Of a few poor household spies,
Or his easier ears beguile,
So removèd by our wile?
’Tis no sin love’s fruit to steal;
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A Sonnet to the Noble Lady, the Lady Mary Wroth
I that have been a lover, and could show it,
Though not in these, in rithmes not wholly dumb,
Since I exscribe your sonnets, am become
A better lover, and much better poet.
Nor is my Muse or I ashamed to owe it
To those true numerous graces, whereof some
But charm the senses, others overcome
Both brains and hearts; and mine now best do know it:
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“Though I am young, and cannot tell”
Though I am young, and cannot tell
Either what Death or Love is well,
Yet I have heard they both bear darts,
And both do aim at human hearts.
And then again, I have been told
Love wounds with heat, as Death with cold;
So that I fear they do but bring
Extremes to touch, and mean one thing.

As in a ruin we it call
One thing to be blown up, or fall;
Or to our end like way may have
By a flash of lightning, or a wave;
So Love’s inflamèd shaft or brand
May kill as soon as Death’s cold hand;
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To Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland
That poets are far rarer births than kings
Your noblest father proved; like whom before,
Or then, or since, about our Muses’ springs,
Came not that soul exhausted so their store.
Hence was it that the destinies decreed
(Save that most masculine issue of his brain)
No male unto him; who could so exceed
Nature, they thought, in all that he would fain.
At which she, happily displeased, made you,
On whom, if he were living now to look,
He should those rare and absolute numbers view,
As he would burn or better far his book.

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To Fool or Knave
Thy praise or dispraise is to me alike:
One doth not stroke me, nor the other strike.

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To Penshurst
Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show,
Of touch or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polished pillars, or a roof of gold;
Thou hast no lantern, whereof tales are told,
Or stair, or courts; but stand’st an ancient pile,
And, these grudged at, art reverenced the while.
Thou joy’st in better marks, of soil, of air,
Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair.
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To Sir Henry Cary
That neither fame nor love might wanting be
To greatness, Cary, I sing that and thee;
Whose house, if it no other honor had,
In only thee might be both great and glad;
Who, to upbraid the sloth of this our time,
Durst valor make almost, but not, a crime;
Which deed I know not, whether were more high,
Or thou more happy, it to justify
Against thy fortune: when no foe, that day,
Could conquer thee but chance, who did betray.
Love thy great loss, which a renown hath won,
To live when Broick not stands, nor Ruhr doth run.
Love honors, which of best example be
When they cost dearest and are done most free;
Though every fortitude deserves applause,
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To the Immortal Memory and Friendship of That Noble Pair, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir Henry Morison
The Turn

Brave infant of Saguntum, clear
Thy coming forth in that great year,
When the prodigious Hannibal did crown
His rage with razing your immortal town.
Thou, looking then about,
Ere thou wert half got out,
Wise child, didst hastily return,
And mad’st thy mother’s womb thine urn.
How summed a circle didst thou leave mankind
Of deepest lore, could we the center find!

The Counterturn

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To the Reader
Pray thee, take care, that tak’st my book in hand,
To read it well: that is, to understand.

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An Epitaph on S.P.
A Child of Queen Elizabeth's Chapel Weep with me, all you that read
This little story:
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An Ode to Himself
Where dost thou careless lie,
Buried in ease and sloth?
Knowledge that sleeps doth die;
And this security,
It is the common moth
That eats on wits and arts, and oft destroys them both.

Are all th' Aonian springs
Dried up? lies Thespia waste?
Doth Clarius' harp want strings,
That not a nymph now sings?
Or droop they as disgrac'd,
To see their seats and bowers by chatt'ring pies defac'd?

If hence thy silence be,
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A Celebration of Charis: I. His Excuse for Loving
Let it not your wonder move,
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years,
I have had, and have, my peers;
Poets, though divine, are men,
Some have lov'd as old again.
And it is not always face,
Clothes, or fortune, gives the grace;
Or the feature, or the youth.
But the language and the truth,
With the ardour and the passion,
Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then will read the story,
First prepare you to be sorry
That you never knew till now
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A Celebration of Charis: IV. Her Triumph
See the chariot at hand here of Love,
Wherein my lady rideth!
Each that draws is a swan or a dove,
And well the car Love guideth.
As she goes, all hearts do duty
Unto her beauty;
And enamour'd, do wish, so they might
But enjoy such a sight,
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Cynthia's Revels: Queen and huntress, chaste and fair
Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright.

Earth, let not thy envious shade
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Epitaph on Elizabeth, L. H.
Wouldst thou hear what man can say
In a little? Reader, stay.
Underneath this stone doth lie
As much beauty as could die;
Which in life did harbour give
To more virtue than doth live.
If at all she had a fault,
Leave it buried in this vault.
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A Fit of Rhyme against Rhyme
Rhyme, the rack of finest wits,
That expresseth but by fits
True conceit,
Spoiling senses of their treasure,
Cozening judgment with a measure,
But false weight;
Wresting words from their true calling,
Propping verse for fear of falling
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A Hymn to God the Father
Hear me, O God!
A broken heart
Is my best part.
Use still thy rod,
That I may prove
Therein thy Love.

If thou hadst not
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My Picture Left in Scotland
I now think Love is rather deaf than blind,
For else it could not be
That she,
Whom I adore so much, should so slight me
And cast my love behind.
I'm sure my language to her was as sweet,
And every close did meet
In sentence of as subtle feet,
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On my First Son
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.
Seven years tho' wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon 'scap'd world's and flesh's rage,
And if no other misery, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask'd, say, "Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry."
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.
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Song: to Celia “Drink to me only with thine eyes”
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I’ll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st it back to me;
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“Still to be neat, still to be dressed”
Still to be neat, still to be dressed,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be powdered, still perfumed;
Lady, it is to be presumed,
Though art's hid causes are not found,
All is not sweet, all is not sound.

Give me a look, give me a face,
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free;
Such sweet neglect more taketh me
Than all th'adulteries of art.
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
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To Heaven
Good and great God, can I not think of thee
But it must straight my melancholy be?
Is it interpreted in me disease
That, laden with my sins, I seek for ease?
Oh be thou witness, that the reins dost know
And hearts of all, if I be sad for show,
And judge me after; if I dare pretend
To ought but grace or aim at other end.
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To John Donne
Donne, the delight of Phoebus and each Muse
Who, to thy one, all other brains refuse;
Whose every work of thy most early wit
Came forth example, and remains so yet;
Longer a-knowing than most wits do live;
And which no affection praise enough can give!
To it, thy language, letters, arts, best life,
Which might with half mankind maintain a strife.
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To Lucy, Countess of Bedford, with John Donne's Satires
Lucy, you brightness of our sphere, who are
Life of the Muses' day, their morning star!
If works, not th' author's, their own grace should look,
Whose poems would not wish to be your book?
But these, desir'd by you, the maker's ends
Crown with their own. Rare poems ask rare friends.
Yet satires, since the most of mankind be
Their unavoided subject, fewest see;
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To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare
To draw no envy, Shakespeare, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame;
While I confess thy writings to be such
As neither man nor muse can praise too much;
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;
For seeliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise.
These are, as some infamous bawd or whore
Should praise a matron; what could hurt her more?
But thou art proof against them, and indeed,
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