Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO SIR ROBERT WROTH, by BEN JONSON



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TO SIR ROBERT WROTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How blest art thou, canst love the country, wroth
Last Line: Though mayst think life, a thing but lent.
Subject(s): Life; Wroth, Sir Robert (1576-1614)


How blest art thou, canst love the country, Wroth,
Whether by choice, or fate, or both;
And, though so near the city, and the court,
Art ta'en with neither's vice, nor sport:
That at great times, art no ambitious guest
Of sheriff's dinner, or mayor's feast.
Nor com'st to view the better cloth of state;
The richer hangings, or crown plate;
Nor throng'st (when masquing is) to have a sight
Of the short bravery of the night;
To view the jewels, stuffs, the pains, the wit
There wasted, some not paid for yet!
But canst, at home, in thy securer rest,
Live, with unbought provision blessed;
Free from proud porches, or their gilded roofs,
'Mongst lowing herds, and solid hoofs:
Alongst the curled woods, and painted meads,
Through which a serpent river leads
To some cool, courteous shade, which he calls, his,
And makes sleep softer than it is!
Or, if thou list the night in watch to break,
Abed canst hear the loud stag speak,
In spring, oft roused for thy master's sport,
Who, for it, makes thy house his court;
Or with thy friends, the heart of all the year,
Divid'st, upon the lesser deer;
In autumn, at the partridge makes a flight,
And giv'st thy gladder guests the sight;
And, in the winter, hunt'st the flying hare,
More for thy exercise, than fare;
While all, that follow, their glad ears apply
To the full greatness of the cry:
Or hawking at the river, or the bush,
Or shooting at the greedy thrush,
Thou dost with some delight the day outwear,
Although the coldest of the year!
The whilst, the several seasons thou hast seen
Of flowery fields, of copses green,
The mowed meadows with the fleeced sheep,
And feasts that either shearers keep;
The ripened ears, yet humble in their height,
And furrows laden with their weight;
The apple harvest, that doth longer last;
The hogs returned home fat from mast;
The trees cut out in log; and those boughs made
A fire now, that lent a shade!
Thus Pan, and Sylvan, having had their rites,
Comus puts in, for new delights;
And fills thy open hall with mirth, and cheer,
As if in Saturn's reign it were;
Apollo's harp, and Hermes' lyre resound,
Nor are the muses strangers found:
The rout of rural folk come thronging in,
(Their rudeness then is thought no sin)
Thy noblest spouse affords them welcome grace;
And the great heroes, of her race,
Sit mixed with loss of state, or reverence.
Freedom doth with degree dispense.
The jolly wassail walks the often round,
And in their cups, their cares are drowned:
They think not, then, which side the cause shall leese,
Nor how to get the lawyer fees.
Such, and no other, was that age, of old,
Which boasts to have had the head of gold.
And such since thou canst make thine own content,
Strive, Wroth, to live long innocent.
Let others watch in guilty arms, and stand
The fury of a rash command,
Go enter breaches, meet the cannons' rage,
That they may sleep with scars in age.
And show their feathers shot, and colours torn,
And brag, that they were therefore born.
Let this man sweat, and wrangle at the bar,
For every price, in every jar,
And change possessions, oft'ner with his breath,
Than either money, war, or death:
Let him, than hardest sires, more disinherit,
And each where boast it as his merit,
To blow up orphans, widows, and their states;
And think his power doth equal Fate's.
Let that go heap a mass of wretched wealth,
Purchased by rapine, worse than stealth,
And brooding o'er it sit, with broadest eyes,
Not doing good, scarce when he dies.
Let thousands more go flatter vice, and win,
By being organs to great sin,
Get place, and honour, and be glad to keep
The secrets, that shall break their sleep:
And, so they ride in purple, eat in plate,
Though poison, think it a great fate.
But thou, my Wroth, if I can truth apply,
Shalt neither that, nor this envy:
Thy peace is made; and, when man's state is well,
'Tis better, if he there can dwell.
God wisheth, none should wrack on a strange shelf:
To him, man's dearer, than t'himself.
And, howsoever we may think things sweet,
He always gives what he knows meet;
Which who can use is happy: such be thou.
Thy morning's, and thy evening's vow
Be thanks to him, and earnest prayer, to find
A body sound, with sounder mind;
To do thy country service, thyself right;
That neither want do thee affright,
Nor death; but when thy latest sand is spent,
Though mayst think life, a thing but lent.







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