Monday’s Verse 2-18-08

Dear readers,

 

OK some people felt kicked in the heart last week by Ms. Wakoski, but then some felt their hearts kick-started. In any case, today we’re getting in the way-back machine and reading some traditional love poetry. Real traditional. 

 

Because I am a nerd, I came across an article on the semicolon in a current subway placard and was utterly fascinated. The lifelong civil servant who wrote the compound sentence–like me a literary M.A. and dilettante–is getting mad props for throwing down such august punctuation in an informational spot for train schedules. Now we all know that the semicolon’s chief use is to connect two independent clauses that have no conjunction between them; in poetry there are additional purposes such as rhythm and emphatic end-rhyme. Apparently Ben Jonson was an early popularizer of this elegant device in the English language. So I ask you, what’s he doing with it here? Two additional notes: this poem is old as heck, so reading 2 or 3 times just for meaning may be necessary. But it’s short, and sweet. Also, I’ve appended a brief bio of the man since we haven’t studied him much in this forum.

 

Happy president’s day and second half of the worst month ever,

 

-ed.

 

PS: “The Alchemist” is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on stage.

 

 

BENJAMIN JONSON: (born June 11?, 1572, London, Eng. — died Aug. 6, 1637, London) British playwright, poet, and critic. After learning stagecraft as a strolling player, he wrote plays for Philip Henslowe‘s theatres. In 1598 his comedy Every Man in His Humour established his reputation. He wrote several masques for the court of James I and created the “antimasque” to precede the masque proper. His classic plays Volpone (1605 – 06), The Alchemist (1610), and Bartholomew Fair (1614) use satire to expose the follies and vices of his age, attacking greed, charlatanism, and religious hypocrisy as well as mocking the fools who fall victim to them. Regarded as the era’s leading dramatist after William Shakespeare, Jonson influenced later playwrights, notably in the dramatic characterization of Restoration comedies. He was also a lyric poet whose works include two famous elegies for his son and daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

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.



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