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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 that destroys them both:

    Are all the Aonian springs
       Dried up? lies Thespia waste?
    Doth Clarius' harp want strings,
    That not a nymph now sings?
       Or droop they as disgraced,
    To see their seats and bowers by chattering pies defaced?

    If hence thy silence be,
       As 'tis too just a cause;
    Let this thought quicken thee:
    Minds that are great and free
       Should not on Fortune pause,
    'Tis crown enough to Virtue still, her own applause.

    What though the greedy fry
       Be taken with false baits
    Of worded balladry,
    And think it poesy?
       They die with their conceits,
    And only piteous scorn upon their folly waits.

    Then take in hand thy lyre;
       Strike in thy proper strain,
    With Japhet's line aspire
    Sol's chariot for new fire
       To give the world again:
    Who aided him, will thee, the issue of Jove's brain.

    And, since our dainty age
       Cannot endure reproof,
    Make not thyself a page
       To that strumpet the stage;
    But sing high and aloof,
    Safe from the wolf's black jaw, and the dull ass's hoof.

    Ben Jonson

 . 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
       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;
    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,
       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.

    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
       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:
    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,
       Here in my bosom, and at home.

    Ben Jonson

 . 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.
    One name was Elizabeth,
    The other, let it sleep with death;
    Fitter, where it died, to tell,
    Than that it lived at all. Farewell.

    Ben Jonson

 . On Salathiel Pavy


    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
       In grace and feature,
    As Heaven and Nature seemed to strive
       Which own'd the creature.
    Years he number'd scarce thirteen
       When Fates turn'd cruel,
    Yet three filled 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
       He play'd so truly.
    So, by error, to his fate
       They all consented;
    But, viewing him since, alas, too late!
       They have repented;
    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.

    Ben Jonson

 . To Lucy Countess of Bedford

    THIS morning, timely wrapt with holy fire,
    I thought to form unto my zealous Muse,
    What kind of creature I could most desire
    To know, serve, and love; as Poets use.
    I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise,
    Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great;
    I meant the day-star should not brighter rise,
    Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat;
    I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
    Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride;
    I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
    Fit in that softer bosom to reside.
    Onely a learn''ed, and a manly soul
    I purpos'd her; that should with even powers,
    The rock, the spindle, and the shears control
    Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.
    Such when I meant to feign, and wished to see,
    My Muse bade Bedford write, and that was she.

    Ben Jonson

 . His Supposed Mistress

    IF I freely may discover
    What would please me in my lover,
       I would have her fair and witty,
       Savouring more of court than city;
       A little proud, but full of pity;
       Light adn humourous in her toying;
       Oft building hopes, and soon destroying;
       Long, but sweet in the enjoying,
    Neither too easy, nor too hard:
    All extremes I would have barred.

    She should be allowed her passions,
    So they were but used as fashions;
       Sometimes froward*, and then frowning,            {sic}
       Sometimes sickish, and then swowning*,            {sic}
       Every fit with change still crowning.
       Purely jealous I would have her,
       Then only constant when I crave her;
       'Tis a virtue should not save her.
    Thus, nor her delicates would cloy me,
    Neither her peevishness annoy me.

    Ben Jonson

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