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Best Famous Ben Jonson Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Ben Jonson poems. This is a select list of the best famous Ben Jonson poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Ben Jonson poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Ben Jonson poems.

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Written by Ben Jonson |

The Hourglass

Consider this small dust here running in the glass,
By atoms moved;
Could you believe that this the body was 
Of one that loved?
And in his mistress' flame, playing like a fly,
Turned to cinders by her eye:
Yes; and in death, as life, unblessed,
To have it expressed,
Even ashes of lovers find no rest.

Written by Ben Jonson |

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 loved 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 ardor and the passion, Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then would hear the story, First, prepare you to be sorry That you never knew till now Either whom to love or how; But be glad as soon with me When you hear that this is she Of whose beauty it was sung, She shall make the old man young, Keep the middle age at stay, And let nothing hide decay, Till she be the reason why All the world for love may die.

Written by Ben Jonson |

To Celia

Drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes, 
And I will pledge with mine; 
Or leave a kisse but in the cup, 
And Ile not looke for wine.
The thirst, that from the soule doth rise, Doth aske a drinke divine: But might I of Jove's Nectar sup, I would not change for thine.
I sent thee, late, a rosie wreath, Not so much honoring thee, As giving it a hope, that there It could not withered bee.
But thou thereon did'st onely breath, And sent'st it back to mee: Since when it growes, and smells, I sweare, Not of it selfe, but thee.

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Written by Ben Jonson |

On My First Daughter

On My First Daughter
by Ben Jonson

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!

Written by Ben Jonson |

To All, To Whom I Write

May none whose scatter'd names honor my book,
For strict degrees of rank or title look :
'Tis 'gainst the manners of an epigram ;
And I a poet here, no herald am.

Written by Ben Jonson |

To my Muse


Away, and leave me, thou thing most abhorr'd
That hast betray'd me to a worthless lord ;
Made me commit most fierce idolatry
To a great image through thy luxury :
Be thy next master's more unlucky muse,
And, as thou'st mine, his hours and youth abuse,
Get him the time's long grudge, the court's ill will ;
And reconcil'd, keep him suspected still.
Make him lose all his friends ; and, which is worse,
Almost all ways to any better course.
With me thou leav'st an happier muse than thee,
And which thou brought'st me, welcome poverty :
She shall instruct my after-thoughts to write
Things manly, and not smelling parasite.
But I repent me : stay — Whoe'er is raised,
For worth he has not, he is tax'd not praised.

Written by Ben Jonson |

Of Life and Death

The ports of death are sins ; of life, good deeds ;
Through which our merit leads us to our meeds.
How wilful blind is he, then, that would stray,
And hath it, in his powers, to make his way !
This world death's region is, the other life's ;
And here, it should be one of our first strifes,
So to front death, as men might judge us past it :
For good men but see death, the wicked taste it.

Written by Ben Jonson |

On Margaret Ratcliffe

M arble, weep, for thou dost cover
A dead beauty underneath thee,
R ich as nature could bequeath thee :
G rant then, no rude hand remove her.

A ll the gazers on the skies
R ead not in fair heaven's story,
E xpresser truth, or truer glory,
T han they might in her bright eyes.

R are as wonder was her wit ;
A nd, like nectar, ever flowing :
T ill time, strong by her bestowing,
C onquer'd hath both life and it ;
L ife, whose grief was out of fashion
I n these times.
  Few so have rued
F ate in a brother.
  To conclude,
F or wit, feature, and true passion,
E arth, thou hast not such another.

[ AJ Note:
   Margaret Ratcliffe was one of Queen Elizabeth's
 She wasted away from grief in
   November 1599, after long mourning the deaths
   of four of her brothers.

Written by Robert Herrick |

His Prayer To Ben Jonson

 When I a verse shall make,
Know I have pray'd thee,
For old religion's sake,
Saint Ben to aid me.
Make the way smooth for me, When I, thy Herrick, Honouring thee, on my knee Offer my lyric.
Candles I'll give to thee, And a new altar, And thou, Saint Ben, shalt be Writ in my psalter.

Written by Ben Jonson |

Song. To Sickness

 ? SONG.
To thy altars, by their nights
Spent in surfeits ; and their days,
And nights too, in worser ways ?
    Take heed, Sickness, what you do,
I shall fear you'll surfeit too.

Live not we, as all thy stalls,And this age will build no more.

    'Pray thee, feed contented then,
    Sickness, only on us men ;
    Or if it needs thy lust will taste
    Woman-kind ; devour the waste
    Livers, round about the town.

But, forgive me, ? with thy crown
They maintain the truest trade,
10    Daintiness, and softer ease,
    Sleeked limbs, and finest blood ?
    If thy leanness love such food,
    There are those, that for thy sake,
    Do enough ; and who would take
    Any pains : yea, think it price,
    To become thy sacrifice.

    That distill, their husbands' land    Lying for the spirit of amber.

    That for the oil of talc dare spend
    More than citizens dare lend
    Them, and all their officers.

    That to make all pleasure theirs,
    Will by coach, and water go,
    Every stew in town to know ;
    Dare entail their loves on any,    Play away health, wealth, and fame.

These, Disease, will thee deserve ;
And will long, ere thou should'st starve,
On their beds, most prostitute,
Move it, as their humblest suit,
In thy justice to molest
None but them, and leave the rest.

Ladies, and of them the best?
Do not men enow of rights
To thy altars, by their nights
Spent in surfeits ; and their days,
And nights too, in worser ways ?
    Take heed, Sickness, what you do,
I shall fear you'll surfeit too.

Live not we, as all thy stalls,

Written by Ben Jonson |

Ode to Sir William Sidney, on His Birthday



                       Some sing,
    And all do strive to advance
The gladness higher;
                Wherefore should I
                Stand silent by,
                    Who not the least,    That I may tell to SIDNEY what
                       This day
                       Doth say,
    And he may think on that
Which I do tell;
                When all the noise
                Of these forced joys,
                    Are fled and gone,

    Are justly summ'd, that make you man;
                       Your vow
                       Must now
    Strive all right ways it can,
T' outstrip your peers :
                Since he doth lack
                Of going back
                    Little,  whose will

    Of nobles' virtue, shew in you ;
                       Your blood
                       So good
    And great, must seek for new,
And study more :
                Not weary, rest
                On what's deceas't.

                    For they, that swell

    Whose nephew, whose grandchild you are ;
                       And men
                       Will then
    Say you have follow'd far,
When well begun :
                Which must be now,
                They teach you how,
                    And he that stays

    If with this truth you be inspired ;
                       So may
                       This day
    Be more, and long desired ;
And with the flame
                Of love be bright,
                As with the light
                    Of bonfires !  then

    And some do drink, and some do dance,
                       Some ring,
                       Some sing,
    And all do strive to advance
The gladness higher;
                Wherefore should I
                Stand silent by,
                    Who not the least,

Written by Ben Jonson |

On Gut

 ? ON GUT.
GUT eats all day and letchers all the night,
   So all his meat he tasteth over twice ;
And striving so to double his delight,
   He makes himself a thorough-fare of vice.
Thus, in his belly, can he change a sin,
Lust it comes out, that gluttony went in.

Written by Ben Jonson |

On Sir Voluptuous Beast

While BEAST instructs his fair and innocent wife,
In the past pleasures of his sensual life,
Telling the motions of each petticoat,
And how his Ganymede mov'd, and how his goat,
And now her hourly her own cucquean makes,
In varied shapes, which for his lust she takes :
What doth he else, but say, Leave to be chaste,
Just wife, and, to change me, make woman's haste.

[AJ Notes:
Ganymede, in Greek mythology, a beautiful shepherd boy
        with whom Zeus fell in love.
Cucquean, n.
[Cuckold + queen], a woman whose
        husband is unfaithful to her.

Written by Ben Jonson |

To Fine Grand


What is't, FINE GRAND, makes thee my friendship fly,
Or take an Epigram so fearfully,
As 'twere a challenge, or a borrower's letter:
The world must know your greatness is my debtor.
Imprimis, Grand, you owe me for a jest
I lent you, on mere acquaintance, at a feast.
Item, a tale or two some fortnight after,
That yet maintains you, and your house in laughter.
Item, the Babylonian song you sing;
Item, a fair Greek poesy for a ring,
With which a learned madam you bely.
Item, a charm surrounding fearfully
Your partie-per-pale picture, one half drawn
In solemn cypress, th' other cobweb lawn.
Item, a gulling imprese for you, at tilt.
Item, your mistress' anagram, in your hilt.
Item, your own, sewn in your mistress' smock.
Item, an epitaph on my lord's cock,
In most vile verses, and cost me more pain,
Than had I made 'em good, to fit your vein.
Forty things more, dear Grand, which you know true,
For which, or pay me quickly, or I'll pay you.

Written by Ben Jonson |

On Lippe the Teacher


I cannot think there's that antipathy
'Twixt puritans and players, as some cry;
Though LIPPE, at Paul's, ran from his text away,
To inveigh 'gainst plays, what did he then but play?