1638 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

Shakerley Marmion, "A Funerall Sacrifice, to the sacred Memory of his thrice honoured Father Ben. Johnson" Jonsonius Virbius: or the Memorie of Ben Johnson revived (1638) 47-49.



I cannot grave, nor carve; else would I give
Thee Statues, Sculptures, and thy name should live
In Tombes, and brasse, untill the stones, or rust
Of thine owne Monument, mixe with thy dust:
But Nature has afforded me a slight
And easie Muse, yet one that takes her flight
Above the vulgar pitch. BEN she was thine,
Made by adoption free and genuine;
By vertue of thy Charter, which from Heaven,
By Jove himselfe, before thy birth was given.
The Sisters Nine this secret did declare,
Who of Jove's counsell, and His daughters are.
These from Parnassus hill came running downe,
And though an Infant did with Laurels crowne.
Thrice they him kist, and took him in their armes,
And dancing round, incircled him with charmes.
Pallas her Virgin breast did thrice distill
Into his lips, and him with Nectar fill.
When he grew up to yeeres, his mind was all
On Verses: Verses, that the Rocks might call
To follow him, and Hell it selfe command,
And wrest Joves three-fold thunder from his hand.
The Satires oft-times hem'd him in a ring,
And gave him pipes and reeds to heare him sing:
Whose vocall notes, tun'd to Apolloes Lyre,
The Syrens and the Muses did admire.
The Nymphs to him their gemmes and corall sent;
And did with Swannes and Nightingales present
Gifts farre beneath his worth. The golden Ore,
That lyes on Tagus or Pactolus shore,
Might not compare with him, nor that pure sand
The Indians find upon Hydaspes Strand.
His fruitfull raptures shall grow up to seed,
And as the Ocean does the Rivers feed,
So shall his wits rich veines, the World supply
With unexhausted wealth, and ne'r be dry.
For whether He, like a fine thread does file
His terser Poems in a Comick stile,
Or treats of tragick furies, and him list,
To draw his lines out with a stronger twist:
Minervas, nor Arachnes loome can show
Such curious tracts; nor does the Spring bestow
Such glories on the Field, or Flora's Bowers,
As His works smile with Figures, and with Flowrs.
Never did so much strength, or such a spell
Of art, and eloquence of papers dwell.
For whil'st that he in colours, full and true,
Men's natures, fancies, and their humours drew
In method, order, matter, sence and grace,
Fitting each person to his time and place;
Knowing to move, to slacke, or to make haste,
Binding the middle with the first and last:
He framed all minds, and did all passions stirre,
And with a bridle guide the Theater.
To say now He is dead, or to maintaine
A Paradox he lives, were labour vaine:
Earth must to earth. But his faire soule does weare
Bright Ariadnes Crowne. Or is plac'd near
Where Orpheus Harpe turnes round with Laedas Swan:
Astrologers, demonstrate where you can,
Where His Star shines, and what part of the Skie,
Holds His compendious Divinity,
There He is fixt, I know it, cause from thence,
My selfe have lately receiv'd influence.
The Reader smiles; but let no man deride
The Embleme of my love, not of my pride.