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JONSON, Ben


It was a beauty that I saw

It was a beauty that I saw,

So pure, so perfect, as the frame

Of all the universe was lame

To that one figure, could I draw

Or give least line of it a law.

A skein of silk without a knot,

A fair march made without a halt,

A curious form without a fault,

A printed book without a blot:

All beauty, and without a spot.


Sweet neglect

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.


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,
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 back to me:
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.


Come my Celia, let us prove

Come my Celia, let us prove,

While we may, the sports of love.

Time will not be ours for ever:

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 rumour are but toys.

Cannot we delude the eyes

Of a few poor household spies?

Or his easier ears beguile,

So removed by our wile?

'Tis no sin love's fruit to steal,

But the sweet theft to reveal;

To be taken, to be seen,

These have crimes accounted been.



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;

Except Love’s fires the virtue have

To fright the frost out of the grave.



The Triumph of Charis


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, enamoured, do wish, so they might

But enjoysuch a sight,

That they still were to run by her side,

Through swords, through seas, whither she would ride.


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

Than wordsthat soothe her!

And from her arched brows, such a grace

Sheds itselfthrough the face,

As alone there triumphs to the life

All the gain, all the good, of the elements' strife.


Have you seen but a bright lily grow

Before rude hands have touchedit?

Have you marked but the fall o' the snow

Before the soil hath smutchedit?

Have you felt the wool of beaver?

Or swan' sdown ever?

Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier?

Or the nardin the fire?

Or have tasted the bag of the bee?

O so white! O so soft! O so sweet is she!



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.

Thou hast thy walks for health, as well as sport;

Thy mount, to which the dryads do resort,

Where Pan and Bacchus their high feasts have made,

Beneath the broad beech and the chestnut shade;

That taller tree, which of a nut was set

At his great birth where all the Muses met.

There in the writhèd bark are cut the names

Of many a sylvan, taken with his flames;

And thence the ruddy satyrs oft provoke

The lighter fauns to reach thy Lady’s Oak.

Thy copse too, named of Gamage, thou hast there,

That never fails to serve thee seasoned deer

When thou wouldst feast or exercise thy friends.

The lower land, that to the river bends,

Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed;

The middle grounds thy mares and horses breed.

Each bank doth yield thee conies; and the tops,

Fertile of wood, Ashore and Sidney’s copse,

To crown thy open table, doth provide

The purpled pheasant with the speckled side;

The painted partridge lies in every field,

And for thy mess is willing to be killed.

And if the high-swollen Medway fail thy dish,

Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,

Fat aged carps that run into thy net,

And pikes, now weary their own kind to eat,

As loath the second draught or cast to stay,

Officiously at first themselves betray;

Bright eels that emulate them, and leap on land

Before the fisher, or into his hand.

Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,

Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.

The early cherry, with the later plum,

Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come;

The blushing apricot and woolly peach

Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach.

And though thy walls be of the country stone,

They’re reared with no man’s ruin, no man’s groan;

There’s none that dwell about them wish them down;

But all come in, the farmer and the clown,

And no one empty-handed, to salute

Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.

Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,

Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make

The better cheeses bring them, or else send

By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend

This way to husbands, and whose baskets bear

An emblem of themselves in plum or pear.

But what can this (more than express their love)

Add to thy free provisions, far above

The need of such? whose liberal board doth flow

With all that hospitality doth know;

Where comes no guest but is allowed to eat,

Without his fear, and of thy lord’s own meat;

Where the same beer and bread, and selfsame wine,

This is his lordship’s shall be also mine,

And I not fain to sit (as some this day

At great men’s tables), and yet dine away.

Here no man tells my cups; nor, standing by,

A waiter doth my gluttony envy,

But gives me what I call, and lets me eat;

He knows below he shall find plenty of meat.

The tables hoard not up for the next day;

Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray

For fire, or lights, or livery; all is there,

As if thou then wert mine, or I reigned here:

There’s nothing I can wish, for which I stay.

That found King James when, hunting late this way

With his brave son, the prince, they saw thy fires

Shine bright on every hearth, as the desires

Of thy Penates had been set on flame

To entertain them; or the country came

With all their zeal to warm their welcome here.

What (great I will not say, but) sudden cheer

Didst thou then make ’em! and what praise was heaped

On thy good lady then, who therein reaped

The just reward of her high housewifery;

To have her linen, plate, and all things nigh,

When she was far; and not a room but dressed

As if it had expected such a guest!

These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all.

Thy lady’s noble, fruitful, chaste withal.

His children thy great lord may call his own,

A fortune in this age but rarely known.

They are, and have been, taught religion; thence

Their gentler spirits have sucked innocence.

Each morn and even they are taught to pray,

With the whole household, and may, every day,

Read in their virtuous parents’ noble parts

The mysteries of manners, arms, and arts.

Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee

With other edifices, when they see

Those proud, ambitious heaps, and nothing else,

May say their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.