The Noble Nature

Ben Jonson - 1572-1637
     It is not growing like a tree	
     In bulk, doth make man better be;	
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,	
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:	
          A lily of a day	        
          Is fairer far in May,	
     Although it fall and die that night—	
     It was the plant and flower of Light.	
In small proportions we just beauties see;	
And in short measures life may perfect be.

More by Ben Jonson

My Picture Left in Scotland

I now think love is rather deaf, than blind,
	For else it could not be,
		That she,
Whom I adore so much, should so slight me,
   And cast my love behind:
I'm sure my language was as sweet,
		And every close did meet
		In sentence of as subtle feet
			As hath the youngest he,
	That sits in shadow of Apollo's tree.

Oh, but my conscious fears,
	That fly my thoughts between,
	Tell me that she hath seen
   My hundreds of gray hairs,
   Told seven and forty years,
   Read so much waist, as she cannot embrace
   My mountain belly and my rock face,
As all these, through her eyes, have stopt her ears.

Song to Celia

Drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes,
    And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kisse but in the cup,
    And Ile not looke for wine.
The thirst, that from the soule doth rise,
    Doth aske a drinke divine:
But might I of Jove's Nectar sup,
    I would not change for thine.
I sent thee, late, a rosie wreath,
    Not so much honoring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
    It could not withered bee.
But thou thereon did'st onely breath,
    And sent'st it back to mee:
Since when it growes, and smells, I sweare,
    Not of it selfe, but thee.

His Excuse for Loving

Let it not your wonder move, 
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years,
I have had, and have, my peers.
Poets, though divine, are men;
Some have loved as old again.
And it is not always face, 
Clothes, or fortune gives the grace,
Or the feature, or the youth;
But the language and the truth, 
With the ardor and the passion, 
Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then would hear the story,
First, prepare you to be sorry 
That you never knew till now
Either whom to love or how;
But be glad as soon with me
When you hear that this is she
Of whose beauty it was sung,
She shall make the old man young,
Keep the middle age at stay,
And let nothing hide decay,
Till she be the reason why
All the world for love may die.