Poems by Ben Jonson

Hymn to Diana

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 5 
Goddess excellently bright. 

Earth let not thy envious shade 
Dare itself to interpose; 
Cynthia's shining orb was made 
Heaven to clear when day did close: 10 
Bless us then with wishèd sight  
Goddess excellently bright. 

Lay thy bow of pearl apart  
And thy crystal-shining quiver; 
Give unto the flying hart 15 
Space to breathe how short soever: 
Thou that mak'st a day of night— 
Goddess excellently bright. 

To Celia

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 5 
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 10 
As giving it a hope that there 
It could not wither'd be; 
But thou thereon didst only breathe  
And sent'st it back to me; 
Since when it grows and smells I swear 15 
Not of itself but thee! 

Simplex Munditiis

STILL to be neat still to be drest  
As you were going to a feast; 
Still to be powder'd still perfumed: 
Lady it is to be presumed  
Though art's hid causes are not found 5 
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 10 
Than all th' adulteries of art; 
They strike mine eyes but not my heart. 

The Shadow

FOLLOW a shadow it still flies you; 
Seem to fly it it will pursue: 
So court a mistress she denies you; 
Let her alone she will court you. 
Say are not women truly then 5 
Styled but the shadows of us men? 

At morn and even shades are longest; 
At noon they are or short or none: 
So men at weakest they are strongest  
But grant us perfect they're not known. 10 
Say are not women truly then  
Styled but the shadows of us men? 

The 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 5 
Unto her beauty; 
And enamour'd do wish, so they might 
But enjoy such a sight, 
That they still were to run by her side, 
Through swords, through seas, whither she would ride. 10 

Do but look on her eyes, they do light 
All that Love's world compriseth! 
Do but look on her hair, it is bright 
As Love's star when it riseth! 
Do but mark, her forehead's smoother 15 
Than words that soothe her; 
And from her arch'd brows such a grace 
Sheds itself through the face, 
As alone there triumphs to the life 
All the gain, all the good, of the elements' strife. 20 

Have you seen but a bright lily grow 
Before rude hands have touch'd it? 
Have you mark'd but the fall of the snow 
Before the soil hath smutch'd it? 
Have you felt the wool of beaver, 25 
Or swan's down ever? 
Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier, 
Or the nard in the fire? 
Or have tasted the bag of the bee? 
O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she! 30 

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 5 
Throughout your form as though that move 
And draw and conquer all men's love  
This subjects you to love of one. 

Wherein you triumph yet—because 
'Tis of your flesh and that you use 10 
The noblest freedom not to choose 
Against or faith or honour's laws. 

But who should less expect from you? 
In whom alone Love lives again: 
By whom he is restored to men 15 
And kept and bred and brought up true. 

His falling temples you have rear'd  
The wither'd garlands ta'en away; 
His altars kept from that decay 
That envy wish'd and nature fear'd: 20 

And on them burn so chaste a flame  
With so much loyalty's expense  
As Love to acquit such excellence 
Is gone himself into your name. 

And you are he—the deity 25 
To whom all lovers are design'd 
That would their better objects find; 
Among which faithful troop am I— 

Who as an off'ring at your shrine 
Have sung this hymn and here entreat 30 
One spark of your diviner heat 
To light upon a love of mine. 

Which if it kindle not but scant 
Appear and that to shortest view; 
Yet give me leave to adore in you 35 
What I in her am grieved to want! 

GLOSS: allay] alloy.

A Farewell to the World

FALSE world good night! since thou hast brought 
That hour upon my morn of age; 
Henceforth I quit thee from my thought  
My part is ended on thy stage. 

Yes threaten do. Alas! I fear 5 
As little as I hope from thee: 
I know thou canst not show nor bear 
More hatred than thou hast to me. 

My tender first and simple years 
Thou didst abuse and then betray; 10 
Since stir'd'st up jealousies and fears  
When all the causes were away. 

Then in a soil hast planted me 
Where breathe the basest of thy fools; 
Where envious arts professèd be 15 
And pride and ignorance the schools; 

Where nothing is examined weigh'd  
But as 'tis rumour'd so believed; 
Where every freedom is betray'd  
And every goodness tax'd or grieved. 20 

But what we're born for we must bear: 
Our frail condition it is such 
That what to all may happen here  
If 't chance to me I must not grutch. 

Else I my state should much mistake 25 
To harbour a divided thought 
From all my kind—that for my sake  
There should a miracle be wrought. 

No I do know that I was born 
To age misfortune sickness grief: 30 
But I will bear these with that scorn 
As shall not need thy false relief. 

Nor for my peace will I go far  
As wanderers do that still do roam; 
But make my strengths such as they are 35 
Here in my bosom and at home. 

The Noble Balm

I send nor balms nor cor'sives to your wound: 
Your fate hath found 
A gentler and more agile hand to tend 
The cure of that which is but corporal; 5 
And doubtful days which were named critical  
Have made their fairest flight 
And now are out of sight. 
Yet doth some wholesome physic for the mind 
Wrapp'd in this paper lie 10 
Which in the taking if you misapply  
You are unkind. 

Your covetous hand  
Happy in that fair honour it hath gain'd  
Must now be rein'd. 15 
True valour doth her own renown command 
In one full action; nor have you now more 
To do than be a husband of that store. 
Think but how dear you bought 
This fame which you have caught: 20 
Such thoughts will make you more in love with truth. 
'Tis wisdom and that high  
For men to use their fortune reverently  
Even in youth. 

On Elizabeth L. H. 
Epitaphs: i

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 5 
To more Virtue than doth live. 
If at all she had a fault  
Leave it buried in this vault. 
One name was Elizabeth  
The other let it sleep with death: 10 
Fitter where it died to tell 
Than that it lived at all. Farewell. 

On Salathiel Pavy 
A child of Queen Elizabeth's Chapel 
Epitaphs: ii

WEEP with me all you that read 
This little story; 
And know for whom a tear you shed 
Death's self is sorry. 
'Twas a child that so did thrive 5 
In grace and feature  
As Heaven and Nature seem'd to strive 
Which own'd the creature. 
Years he number'd scarce thirteen 
When Fates turn'd cruel 10 
Yet three fill'd zodiacs had he been 
The stage's jewel; 
And did act (what now we moan) 
Old men so duly  
As sooth the Parcae thought him one 15 
He play'd so truly. 
So by error to his fate 
They all consented; 
But viewing him since alas too late! 
They have repented; 20 
And have sought to give new birth  
In baths to steep him; 
But being so much too good for earth  
Heaven vows to keep him. 

 A Part of an Ode 
to the Immortal Memory and Friendship of that noble pair  
Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison

IT is not growing like a tree 
In bulk doth make man better be; 
Or standing long an oak three hundred year  
To fall a log at last dry bald and sere: 
A lily of a day 5 
Is fairer far in May  
Although it fall and die that night; 
It was the plant and flower of light. 
In small proportions we just beauties see; 
And in short measures life may perfect be. 10 

Call noble Lucius then for wine  
And let thy looks with gladness shine: 
Accept this garland plant it on thy head  
And think—nay know—thy Morison 's not dead. 
He leap'd the present age 15 
Possest with holy rage 
To see that bright eternal Day 
Of which we Priests and Poets say 
Such truths as we expect for happy men; 
And there he lives with memory—and Ben 20 

Jonson: who sung this of him ere he went 
Himself to rest  
Or tast a part of that full joy he meant 
To have exprest 
In this bright Asterism 25 
Where it were friendship's schism— 
Were not his Lucius long with us to tarry— 
To separate these twy 
Lights the Dioscuri  
And keep the one half from his Harry. 30 
But fate doth so alternate the design  
Whilst that in Heav'n this light on earth must shine. 

And shine as you exalted are! 
Two names of friendship but one star: 
Of hearts the union: and those not by chance 35 
Made or indenture or leased out to advance 
The profits for a time. 
No pleasures vain did chime 
Of rimes or riots at your feasts  
Orgies of drink or feign'd protests; 40 
But simple love of greatness and of good  
That knits brave minds and manners more than blood. 

This made you first to know the Why 
You liked then after to apply 
That liking and approach so one the t'other 45 
Till either grew a portion of the other: 
Each stylèd by his end 
The copy of his friend. 
You lived to be the great surnames 
And titles by which all made claims 50 
Unto the Virtue—nothing perfect done 
But as a CARY or a MORISON. 

And such the force the fair example had 
As they that saw 
The good and durst not practise it were glad 55 
That such a law 
Was left yet to mankind  
Where they might read and find 
FRIENDSHIP indeed was written not in words  
And with the heart not pen 60 
Of two so early men  
Whose lines her rules were and records: 
Who ere the first down bloomèd on the chin  
Had sow'd these fruits and got the harvest in.

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