An Epitaph on S.P.

By Ben Jonson 1572–1637 Ben Jonson

A Child of Queen Elizabeth's Chapel

Weep with me, all you that read
         This little story:
And know, for whom a tear you shed
         Death's self is sorry.
'Twas a child, that so did thrive
         In grace and feature,
As heaven and nature seem'd to strive
         Which own'd the creature.
Years he number'd scarce thirteen
         When fates turn'd cruel,
Yet three fill'd zodiacs had he been
         The stage's jewel;
And did act (what now we moan)
         Old men so duly,
As, sooth, the Parcæ thought him one,
         He play'd so truly.
So, by error, to his fate
         They all consented;
But viewing him since (alas, too late)
         They have repented;
And have sought (to give new birth)
         In baths to steep him;
But being so much too good for earth,
         Heaven vows to keep him.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Ben Jonson 1572–1637


SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Death, Youth

Poetic Terms Elegy, Epigraph

 Ben  Jonson


Ben Jonson’s “Song to Celia” is known to millions as “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes.” Jonson was educated at the prestigious Westminster School in London. He took up acting, and by 1597 he was writing original plays. Jonson’s first widely acclaimed play, Every Man in His Humour, included William Shakespeare in its cast.

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Death, Youth


SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Elegy, Epigraph

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.