Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;A heart-breaking work, for sure. For a touch of levity, though, a Dartmouth-related anecdote: You'll notice that Jonson spells his name the way we commonly spell that surname, though not usually his. (The Norton standardizes it to "Jonson," btw.) Well, evidently other people have that trouble and more too: there is an academic legend that I've seen reported in a number of places that Jeff Hart, the long-time adviser to The Dartmouth Review, assigned a paper for his 18th century English class on Samuel Johnson, but received from one student a paper on Ben. The student was relieved to find only two marks on his paper when it was returned: "Wrong Johnson" and "B+." Hart was known in his teaching days as "Easy Jeff."
My sinne was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy,
Seven yeeres tho'wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I loose all father?, now. For why
Will man lament the state he should envie?
To have so soone scap'd worlds, and fleshes rage,
And, if no other miserie, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask'd, say, here doth lye
Ben. Johnson his best piece of poetry.
For whose sake, hence-forth all his vowes be such
As what he loves may never like too much.
George Herbert: There are three poems I'd like to share with you, although I am feeling a little lazy and don't want to bother formatting them here, so I'll just link to them:
Both "Jordan" poems reflect on the vanity of artificial beauty, especially as it is cultivated in verse. Some immortal lines there—"Is all good structure in a winding stair?" or "Catching the sense at two removes?" or "Curling with metaphors a plain intention, / Decking the sense, as if it were to sell" or "There is in love a sweetnesse readie penn'd." Clearly a response to Donne's gaudily bruising metaphysicality, Herbert makes the case that intellectualizing one's way to God is a form of temporizing on the way to Him, of setting obstacles (in this case syntactic or semantic obstacles) before oneself in order to hold back from His will a little while yet, as if one were taking a "winding stair" to God. A very astute reading of Donne, and one which translates well to modernism, I think.
Henry Vaughan, from "The World":
I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright ;
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years
Driv'n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov'd ; in which the world
And all her train were hurl'd.
The doting lover in his quaintest strain
Did there complain ;
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights,
Wit's sour delights ;
With gloves, and knots, the silly snares of pleasure,
Yet his dear treasure,
All scatter'd lay, while he his eyes did pour
Upon a flow'r.