An Elegy

By Ben Jonson 1572–1637 Ben Jonson
Though beauty be the mark of praise,
   And yours of whom I sing be such
   As not the world can praise too much,
Yet ’tis your virtue now I raise.

A virtue, like allay, so gone
   Throughout your form, as, though that move
   And draw and conquer all men’s love,
This sùbjects you to love of one.

Wherein you triumph yet; because
   ’Tis of yourself, and that you use
   The noblest freedom, not to choose
Against or faith or honor’s laws.

But who should less expect from you,
   In whom alone Love lives again?
   By whom he is restored to men,
And kept, and bred, and brought up true.

His falling temples you have reared,
   The withered garlands ta’en away;
   His altars kept from the decay
That envy wished, and nature feared;

And on them burn so chaste a flame,
   With so much loyalties’ expense,
   As Love, t’ acquit such excellence,
Is gone himself into your name.

And you are he; the deity
   To whom all lovers are designed
   That would their better objects find;
Among which faithful troop am I.

Who, as an offspring at your shrine,
   Have sung this hymn, and here entreat
   One spark of your diviner heat
To light upon a love of mine.

Which, if it kindle not, but scant
   Appear, and that to shortest view,
   Yet give me leave t’ adore in you
What I in her am grieved to want.

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Poet Ben Jonson 1572–1637


SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Love, Infatuation & Crushes, Heartache & Loss

 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.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Infatuation & Crushes, Heartache & Loss


SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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