Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND (1), by BEN JONSON



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AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND (1), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Censure not sharply then, but me advise
Last Line: Her fury, though no friendship he betray.


Censure not sharply then, but me advise
Before I write more verse, to be more wise.

So ended your epistle, mine begins,
He that so censureth, or adviseth sins,
The empty carper, scorn, not credit wins.

I have, with strict advantage of free time
O'er-read, examined, tried, and proved your rhyme
As clear, and distant, as yourself from crime;

And though your virtue (as becomes it) still
Deigns mine the power to find, yet want I will
Or malice to make faults, which now is skill.

Little know they that profess amity
And seek to scant her comely liberty,
How much they lame her, in her property:

And less they know, that being free to use
That friendship, which no chance, but love did choose,
Will unto licence, that free leave abuse:

It is an act of tyranny, not love,
In course of friendship, wholly to reprove:
And flattery, with friends' humours still to move.

From each of which, I labour to be free,
Yet, if with either's vice, I tainted be,
Forgive it as my frailty, and not me.

For no man lives, so out of passion's sway,
But sometimes shall be tempted to obey
Her fury, though no friendship he betray.





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