Ben Jonson
 
 
T  H  E     F  O  R  E  S  T . 
 

XIV. ODE TO SIR WILLIAM SIDNEY, ON HIS BIRTH-DAY. 


Now that the hearth is crown'd with smiling fire,
    And some do drink, and some do dance,
                       Some ring,
                       Some sing,
    And all do strive to advance
The gladness higher ;
                Wherefore should I
                Stand silent by,
                    Who not the least,
Both love the cause, and authors of the feast ?

Give me my cup, but from the Thespian well,
    That I may tell to SIDNEY what
                       This day
                       Doth say,
    And he may think on that
Which I do tell ;
                When all the noise
                Of these forced joys,
                    Are fled and gone,

10
And he with his best Genius left alone.

This day says, then, the number of glad years
    Are justly summ'd, that make you man;
                       Your vow
                       Must now
    Strive all right ways it can,
T' outstrip your peers :
                Since he doth lack
                Of going back
                    Little,  whose will

20
Doth urge him to run wrong, or to stand still.

Nor can a little of the common store
    Of nobles' virtue, shew in you ;
                       Your blood
                       So good
    And great, must seek for new,
And study more :
                Not weary, rest
                On what's deceas't.
                    For they, that swell

30
With dust of ancestors, in graves but dwell.

'Twill be exacted of your name, whose son,
    Whose nephew, whose grandchild you are ;
                       And men
                       Will then
    Say you have follow'd far,
When well begun :
                Which must be now,
                They teach you how,
                    And he that stays

40
To live until to-morrow', hath lost two days.

So may you live in honor, as in name,
    If with this truth you be inspired ;
                       So may
                       This day
    Be more, and long desired ;
And with the flame
                Of love be bright,
                As with the light
                    Of bonfires !  then

50
The birth-day shines, when logs not burn, but men.    6o  



 

Source:
Jonson, Ben.  The Works of Ben Jonson.
Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Co., 1853. 807.


Backto Works of Ben Jonson

Site copyright ©1996-2003 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on February 18, 2003.