Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND (2), by BEN JONSON



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AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND (2), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sir, I am thankful, first, to heaven, for you
Last Line: Her fury, yet no friendship to betray.


Sir, I am thankful, first, to heaven, for you;
Next to yourself, for making your love true:
Then to your love, and gift. And all's but due.

You have unto my store added a book,
On which with profit, I shall never look,
But must confess from whom what gift I took.

Not like your country neighbours, that commit
Their vice of loving for a Christmas fit;
Which is indeed but friendship of the spit:

But, as a friend, which name yourself receive,
And which you (being the worthier) gave me leave
In letters, that mix spirits, thus to weave.

Which, how most sacred I will ever keep,
So may the fruitful vine my temples steep,
And Fame wake for me, when I yield to sleep.

Though you sometimes proclaim me too severe,
Rigid, and harsh, which is a drug austere
In friendship, I confess: but dear friend, hear.

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, who being free to use
That friendship which no chance but love did choose,
Will unto licence that fair leave abuse.

It is an act of tyranny, not love,
In practiced friendship wholly to reprove,
As 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 shall sometimes be tempted to obey
Her fury, yet no friendship to betray.





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