Ben Jonson


  U  N  D  E  R  W  O  O  D  S .

MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.


EPITHALAMION ;  OR,  A  SONG ;

Celebrating the Nuptials of that noble gentleman, Mr. Hierome Weston, Son and Heir of the Lord
    Weston, Lord  High  Treasurer of  England,  with the Lady Frances Stewart,  Daughter of  Esme,
Duke of Lenox, deceased, and Sister of the surviving Duke of the same name.                              


XCIII. — EPITHALAMION.

  Though thou hast passed thy summer-standing, stay
     Awhile with us, bright sun, and help our light ;
Thou canst not meet more glory on the way,
     Between the tropics, to arrest thy sight,
          Than thou shalt see today :
               We woo thee stay ;
          And see what can be seen,
 The bounty of a king, and beauty of his queen.

 See the procession ! what a holy day,
     Bearing the promise of some better fate,
Hath filled, with caroches, all the way,
     From Greenwich hither to Rowhampton gate !
          When look'd the year, at best,
               So like a feast ;
          Or were affairs in tune,
By all the spheres consent, so in the heart of June ?

What beauty of beauties, and bright youths at charge
     Of summer's liveries, and gladding green,
Do boast their loves and braveries so at large,
     As they came all to see, and to be seen!
          When look'd the earth so fine,
               Or so did shine,
          In all her bloom and flower,
To welcome home a pair, and deck the nuptial bower ?

It is the kindly season of the time,
     The month of youth, which calls all creatures forth,
To do their offices in nature's chime,
     And celebrate, perfection at the worth,
          Marriage, the end of life,
               That holy strife,
          And the allowed war,
Through which not only we, but all our species are.

Hark how the bells upon the waters play
     Their sister-tunes from Thames his either side,
As they had learn'd new changes for the day,
     And all did ring the approaches of the bride ;
          The Lady FRANCES drest
               Above the rest
          Of all the maidens fair ;
In graceful ornament of garland, gems, and hair.

See how she paceth forth in virgin-white,
     Like what she is, the daughter of a duke,
And sister ;  darting forth a dazzling light
     On all that come her simplesse to rebuke !
          Her tresses trim her back,
               As she did lack
          Nought of a maiden queen,
With modesty so crown'd, and adoration seen.

Stay, thou wilt see what rites the virgins do,
     The choicest virgin-troop of all the land !
Porting the ensigns of united two,
     Both crowns and kingdoms in their either hand :
          Whose majesties appear,
               To make more clear
          This feast, than can the day,
Although that thou, O sun, at our entreaty stay !

See how with roses, and with lilies shine,
      Lilies and roses, flowers of either sex,
The bright bride's paths, embellish'd more than thine,
     With light of love this pair doth intertex !
          Stay, see the virgins sow,
               Where she shall go,
          The emblems of their way.
O, now thou smil'st, fair sun, and shin'st, as thou wouldst stay !

With what full hands, and in how plenteous showers,
     Have they bedew'd the earth, where she doth tread,
As if her airy steps did spring the flowers,
     And all the ground were garden where she led !
          See, at another door,
               On the same floor,
          The bridegroom meets the bride
With all the pomp of youth, and all our court beside !

Our court, and all the grandees !  now, sun, look,
     And looking with thy best inquiry, tell,
In all the age of journals thou hast took,
     Saw'st thou that pair became these rites so well,
          Save the preceding two ?
               Who, in all they do,
          Search, sun, and thou wilt find
They are the exampled pair, and mirror of their kind.

Force from the Phoenix, then, no rarity
     Of sex, to rob the creature ; but from man,
The king of creatures, take his parity
     With angels, muse, to speak these :  nothing can
          Illustrate these, but they
               Themselves to-day,
          Who the whole act express ;
All else, we see beside, are shadows, and go less.

It is their grace and favor that makes seen,
     And wonder'd at the bounties of this day ;
All is a story of the king and queen :
     And what of dignity and honor may
          Be duly done to those
                Whom they have chose,
          And set the mark upon,
To give a greater name and title to !  their own !

WESTON, their treasure, as their treasurer,
     That mine of wisdom, and of counsels deep,
Great say-master of state, who cannot err,
     But doth his caract, and just standard keep,
          In all the prov'd assays,
                And legal ways
          Of trials, to work down
Men's love unto the laws, and laws to love the crown.

And this well mov'd the judgement of the king
     To pay with honors to his noble son
To-day, the father's service ;  who could bring
     Him up, to do the same himself had done :
          That far all-seeing eye
               Could soon espy
          What kind of waking man
He had so highly set ; and in what Barbican.

Stand there ; for when a noble nature's rais'd,
     It brings friends joy, foes grief, posterity fame ;
In him the times, no less than prince, are prais'd,
     And by his rise, in active men, his name
          Doth emulation stir ;
               To the dull a spur
          It is, to the envious meant
A mere upbraiding grief, and torturing punishment.

See now the chapel opens, where the king
     And bishop stay to consummate the rites ;
The holy prelate prays, then takes the ring,
     Asks first, who gives her ? I, CHARLES then he plights
          One in the other's hand,
               Whilst they both stand
          Hearing their charge, and then
The solemn choir cries, Joy !  and they return, Amen !

O happy bands ! and thou more happy place,
    Which to this use wert built and consecrate !
To have thy God to bless, thy king to grace,
     And this their chosen bishop celebrate,
           And knit the nuptial knot,
                Which time shall not,
           Or canker'd jealousy,
With all corroding arts, be able to untie !

The chapel empties, and thou mayst be gone
     Now, sun, and post away the rest of day :
These two, now holy church hath made them one,
     Do long to make themselves so, another way :
           There is a feast behind,
                To them of kind,
           Which their glad parents taught
One to the other, long ere these to light were brought.

Haste, haste, officious sun, and send them night
     Some hours before it should, that these may know
All that their fathers and their mothers might
     Of nuptial sweets, at such a season, owe,
           To propagate their names,
                And keep their fames
           Alive, which else would die ;
For fame keeps virtue up, and it posterity.

The ignoble never lived, they were awhile
     Like swine or other cattle here on earth :
Their names are not recorded on the file
     Of life, that fall so ;  Christians know their birth
           Alone, and such a race,
                We pray may grace,
           Your fruitful spreading vine,
But dare not ask our wish in language Fescennine.

Yet, as we may, we will with chaste desires,
     The holy perfumes of the marriage-bed,
Be kept alive, those sweet and sacred fires
     Of love between you and your lovely-head !
           That when you both are old,
                You find no cold
           There ; but renewed, say,
After the last child born, This is our wedding day.

Till you behold a race to fill your hall,
     A Richard, and a Hierome, by their names
Upon a Thomas, or a Francis call ;
     A Kate, a Frank, to honor their grand-dames,
           And 'tween their grandsires' thighs,
                Like pretty spies,
           Peep forth a gem ; to see
How each one plays his part, of the large pedigree !

And never may there want one of the stem,
     To be a watchful servant for this state ;
But like an arm of eminence 'mongst them,
     Extend a reaching virtue early and late !
           Whilst the main tree still found
                Upright and sound,
           By this sun's noonsted's made
So great ; his body now alone projects the shade.

They both are slipp'd to bed ; shut fast the door,
     And let him freely gather love's first-fruits.
He's master of the office ; yet no more
     Exacts than she is pleased to pay :  no suits
           Strifes, murmurs, or delay,
                Will last till day ;
          Night and the sheets will show
The longing couple all that elder lovers know.




 

Source:
Jonson, Ben.  The Works of Ben Jonson.
Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Co., 1853. 840-842.


Backto Works of Ben Jonson

Site copyright ©1996-2003 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on February 25, 2003..