Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ELEGY (2), by BEN JONSON



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AN ELEGY (2), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Let me be what I am, as virgil cold
Last Line: More then of eithers manners, wit, or face!
Subject(s): Poetry & Poets


Let me be what I am, as Virgil cold;
As Horace fat; or as Anacreon old;
No Poets verses yet did ever move,
Whose Readers did not thinke he was in love.
Who shall forbid me then in Rithme to bee
As light, and active as the youngest hee
That from the Muses fountaines doth indorse
His lynes, and hourely sits the Poets horse?
Put on my Ivy Garland, let me see
Who frownes, who jealous is, who taxeth me.
Fathers, and Husband, I doe claime a right
In all that is call'd lovely: take my sight
Sooner then my affection from the faire.
No face, no hand, proportion, line, or Ayre
Of beautie; but the Muse hath interest in:
There is not worne that lace, purle, knot or pin,
But is the Poets matter: And he must,
When he is furious, love, although not lust.
Be then content, your Daughters and your Wives,
(If they be faire and worth it) have their lives
Made longer by our praises. Or, if not,
Wish, you had fowle ones, and deformed got;
Curst in their Cradles, or there chang'd by Elves,
So to be sure you doe injoy your selves.
Yet keepe those up in sackcloth too, or lether,
For Silke will draw some sneaking Songster thither.
It is a ryming Age, and Verses swarme
At very stall; The Cittie Cap's a charme.
But I who love, and have liv'd twentie yeare
Where I may handle Silke, as free, and neere,
As any Mercer; or the whale-bone man
That quilts those bodies, I have leave to span:
Have eaten with the Beauties, and the wits
And braveries of Court, and felt their fits
Of love, and hate: and came so nigh to know
Whether their faces were their owne, or no:
It is not likely I should now looke downe
Upon a Velvet Petticote, or a Gowne,
Whose like I have knowne the Taylors Wife put on
To doe her Husbands rites in, e're 'twere gone
Home to the Customer: his Letcherie
Being, the best clothes still to praeoccupie.
Put a Coach-mare in Tissue, must I horse
Her presently? Or leape thy Wife of force
When by thy sordid bountie she hath on
A Gowne of that, was the Caparison?
So I might dote upon thy Chaires, and Stooles
That are like cloath'd: must I be of those fooles
Of race accompted, that no passion have
But when thy Wife (as thou conceiv'st) is brave?
Then ope thy wardrobe, thinke me that poore Groome
That from the Foot-man, when he was become
An Officer there, did make most solemne love,
To ev'ry Petticote he brush'd, and Glove
He did lay up, and would adore the shooe,
Or slipper was left off, and kisse it too,
Court every hanging Gowne, and after that,
Lift up some one, and doe, I tell not what.
Thou didst tell me; and wert o're-joy'd to peepe
In at a hole, and see these Actions creepe
From the poore wretch, which though he play'd in prose,
He would have done in verse, with any of those
Wrung on the Withers, by Lord Loves despight,
Had he'had the facultie to reade, and write!
Such Songsters there are store of; witnesse he
That chanc'd the lace, laid on a Smock, to see,
And straight-way spent a Sonnet; with that other
That (in pure Madrigall) unto his Mother
Commended the French-hood, and Scarlet gowne
The Lady Mayresse pass'd in through the Towne,
Unto the Spittle Sermon. O, what strange
Varietie of Silkes were on th' Exchange!
Or in Moore-fields, this other night! sings one,
Another answers, "Lasse, those Silkes are none,"
In smiling L'envoye, as he would deride
Any Comparison had with his Cheap-side.
And vouches both the Pageant, and the Day,
When not the Shops, but windowes doe display
The Stuffes, the Velvets, Plushes, Fringes, Lace,
And all the originall riots of the place.
Let the poore fooles enjoy their follies, love
A Goat in Velvet; or some block could move
Under that cover; an old Mid-wives hat!
Or a Close-stoole so cas'd! or any fat
Bawd, in a Velvet scabberd! I envy
None of their pleasures! now will aske thee, why
Thou art jealous of thy Wifes, or Daughters Case:
More then of eithers manners, wit, or face!






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