Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ODE TO JAMES, EARL OF DESMOND, by BEN JONSON



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AN ODE TO JAMES, EARL OF DESMOND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Where art thou, genius? I should use
Last Line: As far from all revolt, as you are now from fortune.


Where art thou, genius? I should use
Thy present aid: arise invention,
Wake, and put on the wings of Pindar's muse,
To tower with my intention
High, as his mind, that doth advance
Her upright head, above the reach of chance,
Or the times' envy:
Cynthius, I apply
My bolder numbers to thy golden lyre:
O, then inspire
Thy priest in this strange rapture; heat my brain
With Delphic fire:
That I may sing my thoughts, in some unvulgar strain.

Rich beam of honour, shed your light
On these dark rhymes; that my affection
May shine (through every chink) to every sight
Graced by your reflection!
Then shall my verses, like strong charms
Break the knit circle of her stony arms,
That holds your spirit:
And keeps your merit
Locked in her cold embraces, from the view
Of eyes more true,
Who would with judgement search, searching conclude,
(As proved in you)
True noblesse. Palm grows straight, though handled ne'er so rude!
Nor think yourself unfortunate,
If subject to the jealous errors
Of politic pretext, that wries a state,
Sink not beneath these terrors:
But whisper; O glad innocence
Where only a man's birth is his offence;
Or the disfavour,
Of such as savour
Nothing, but practise upon honour's thrall.
O virtue's fall,
When her dead essence (like the anatomy
In Surgeons' Hall)
Is but a statist's theme, to read phlebotomy.
Let Brontes, and black Steropes
Sweat at the forge, their hammers beating;
Pyracmon's hour will come to give them ease,
Though but while metal's heating:
And, after all the Etnean ire,
Gold, that is perfect, will outlive the fire.
For fury wasteth,
As patience lasteth.
No armour to the mind! He is shot-free
From injury,
That is not hurt; not he, that is not hit;
So fools we see,
Oft scape an imputation, more through luck, than wit.

But to yourself, most loyal lord,
(Whose heart in that bright sphere flames clearest,
Though many gems be in your bosom stored,
Unknown which is the dearest)
If I auspiciously divine,
(As my hope tells) that our fair Phoebe's shine,
Shall light those places,
With lustrous graces,
Where darkness with her gloomy sceptered hand,
Doth now command;
O then (my best-best loved) let me importune,
That you will stand,
As far from all revolt, as you are now from fortune.





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