Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPITHALAMION: OR, A SONG CELEBRATING NUPTIALS OF HIEROME WESTON, by BEN JONSON



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EPITHALAMION: OR, A SONG CELEBRATING NUPTIALS OF HIEROME WESTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Though thou hast passed thy summer standing, stay
Last Line: The longing couple, all that elder lovers know.
Subject(s): Wedding Song; Epithalamium


Though thou hast passed thy summer standing, stay
Awhile with us, bright sun, and help our light;
Thou canst not meet more glory, on the way,
Between thy tropics, to arrest thy sight,
Than thou shalt see today:
We woo thee, stay
And see, what can be seen,
The bounty of a king, and beauty of his queen!

See, the procession! What a holiday
(Bearing the promise of some better fate)
Hath filled, with caroches, all the way,
From Greenwich, hither, to Roehampton gate!
When looked the year, at best,
So like a feast?
Or were affairs in tune,
By all the spheres' consent, so in the heart of June?

What bevy of beauties, and bright youths at charge
Of summer's liveries, and gladding green:
Do boast their loves, and braveries so at large,
As they came all to see, and to be seen!
When looked the earth so fine,
Or so did shine,
In all her bloom, and flower;
To welcome home a pair, and deck the nuptial bower?

It is the kindly season of the time,
The month of youth, which calls all creatures forth
To do their offices in nature's chime,
And celebrate (perfection at the worth)
Marriage, the end of life,
That holy strife,
And the allowed war:
Through which not only we, but all our species are.

Hark how the bells upon the waters play
Their sister-tunes, from Thames his either side,
As they had learned new changes, for the day,
And all did ring the approaches of the bride;
The Lady Frances, dressed
Above the rest
Of all the maidens fair;
In graceful ornament of garland, gems, and hair.

See, how she paceth forth in virgin white,
Like what she is, the daughter of a duke,
And sister: darting forth a dazzling light
On all that come her simpless to rebuke!
Her tresses trim her back,
As she did lack
Naught of a maiden queen,
With modesty so crowned, and adoration seen.

Stay, thou wilt see what rites the virgins do!
The choicest virgin-troop of all the land!
Porting the ensigns of united two,
Both crowns, and kingdoms in their either hand;
Whose majesties appear,
To make more clear
This feast, than can the day
Although that thou, O sun, at our entreaty stay!

See, how with roses', and with lilies' shine,
(Lilies and roses, flowers of either sex)
The bright bride's paths, embellished more than thine
With light of love, this pair doth intertex!
Stay, see the virgins sow,
(Where she shall go)
The emblems of their way.
O, now thou smil'st, fair sun, and shin'st, as thou wouldst stay!

With what full hands, and in how plenteous showers
Have they bedewed the earth, where she doth tread,
As if her airy steps did spring the flowers,
And all the ground were garden, where she led!
See, at another door,
On the same floor,
The bridegroom meets the bride
With all the pomp of youth, and all our court beside.

Our court, and all the grandees; now, sun, look,
And looking with thy best inquiry, tell,
In all thy age of journals thou hast took,
Saw'st thou that pair, became these rites so well,
Save the preceding two?
Who, in all they do,
Search, sun, and thou wilt find
They are the exampled pair, and mirror of their kind.

Force from the phoenix then, no rarity
Of sex, to rob the creature; but from man,
The king of creatures, take his parity
With angels, muse, to speak these: nothing can
Illustrate these, but they
Themselves today,
Who the whole act express;
All else we see beside, are shadows, and go less.

It is their grace, and favour, that makes seen,
And wondered at, the bounties of this day:
All is a story of the king and queen!
And what of dignity, and honour may
Be duly done to those
Whom they have chose,
And set the mark upon
To give a greater name, and title to! Their own!

Weston, their treasure, as their treasurer,
That mine of wisdom, and of councils deep,
Great 'say-master of state, who cannot err,
But doth his carract, and just standard keep
In all the proved assays,
And legal ways
Of trials, to work down
Men's loves unto the laws, and laws to love the crown.

And this well moved the judgement of the king
To pay with honours, to his noble son
Today, the father's service; who could bring
Him up, to do the same himself had done.
That far all-seeing eye
Could soon espy
What kind of waking man
He had so highly set; and, in what barbican.

Stand there; for when a noble nature's raised,
It brings friends joy, foes grief, posterity fame;
In him the times, no less than prince, are praised,
And by his rise, in active men, his name
Doth emulation stir;
To the dull, a spur
It is: to the envious meant
A mere upbraiding grief, and tort'ring punishment.

See, now the chapel opens; where the king
And bishop stay, to consummate the rites;
The holy prelate prays, then takes the ring,
Asks first, who gives her (I, Charles) then he plights
One in the other's hand,
Whilst they both stand
Hearing their charge, and then
The solemn choir cries, joy; and they return, Amen.

O happy bands! And thou more happy place,
Which to this use, wert built and consecrate!
To have thy God to bless, thy king to grace,
And this their chosen bishop celebrate,
And knit the nuptial knot,
Which time shall not,
Or cankered jealousy,
With all corroding arts, be able to untie!

The chapel empties, and thou mayst be gone
Now, sun, and post away the rest of day:
These two, now holy church hath made them one,
Do long to make themselves, so, another way:
There is a feast behind,
To them of kind,
Which their glad parents taught
One to the other, long ere these to light were brought.

Haste, haste, officious sun, and send them night
Some hours before it should, that these may know
All that their fathers, and their mothers might
Of nuptial sweets, at such a season, owe,
To propagate their names,
And keep their fames
Alive, which else would die,
For fame keeps virtue up, and it posterity.

The ignoble never lived, they were awhile
Like swine, or other cattle here on earth:
Their names are not recorded on the file
Of life, that fall so; Christians know their birth,
Alone, and such a race,
We pray may grace
Your fruitful spreading vine,
But dare not ask our wish in language fescennine:

Yet, as we may, we will, wish chaste desires,
(The holy perfumes of the marriage bed)
Be kept alive, those sweet, and sacred fires
Of love between you, and your lovelihead:
That when you both are old,
You find no cold
There; but, renewed, say,
(After the last child born); this is our wedding day.

Till you behold a race to fill your hall,
A Richard, and a Hierome, by their names
Upon a Thomas, or a Francis call;
A Kate, a Frank, to honour their grand-dames,
And 'tween their grandsire's thighs,
Like pretty spies,
Peep forth a gem; to see
How each one plays his part, of the large pedigree.

And never may there want one of the stem,
To be a watchful servant for this state;
But like an arm of eminence, 'mongst them,
Extend a reaching virtue, early and late:
Whilst the main tree still found
Upright and sound,
By this sun's noonstead's made
So great; his body now alone projects the shade.

They both are slipped to bed; shut fast the door,
And let them freely gather love's first-fruits,
He's master of the office; yet no more
Exacts than she is pleased to pay: no suits,
Strifes, murmurs, or delay,
Will last till day:
Night, and the sheets will show
The longing couple, all that elder lovers know.





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