Ben Jonson (11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637 / London / England)
On the happy entrace of Iames, our Soveraigne, to His first high Session of Parliament in this his Kingdome, the 19 of March, 1603.
Licet toto nunc Helicone frui.
Heav'n now not strives, alone, our breasts to fill
With joyes: but urgeth his full favors still.
Againe, the glory of our Westerne World
Unfolds himselfe: and from his eyes are hoorl'd
(To day) a thousand radiant lights, that streame
To every nook and angle of his Realme.
His former rayes did only cleare the sky;
But these his searching beams are cast, to pry
Into those dark and deep concealed vaults,
Where men commit black incest with their faults;
And snore supinely in the stall of sin:
Where Murder, Rapine, Lust, do sit within,
Carowsing humane blood in yron bowles,
And make their den the slaughter-house of soules:
From whose foule reeking cavernes first arise
Those damps, that so offend all good mens eyes,
And would (if not dispers'd) infect the Crown,
And in their vapor her bright metall drown.
To this so cleare and sanctified an end,
I saw, when reverend Themis did descend
Upon his State; let down in that rich chaine,
That fastneth heavenly power to earthly raigne:
Beside her, stoup't on either hand, a maid,
Faire Dice, and Eunomia; who were said
To be her daughters: and but faintly known
On earth, till now, they came to grace his throne.
Her third, Irene, help'd to beare his traine;
And in her office vow'd she would remaine,
Till forraine malice, or unnaturall spight
(Which Fates avert) should force her from her right.
With these he pass'd, and with his peoples hearts
Breath'd in his way; and soules (their better parts)
Hasting to follow forth in shouts, and cryes.
Upon his face all threw their covetous eyes,
As on a wonder: some amazed stood,
As if they felt, but had not known their good
Others would faine have shew'n it in their words:
But, when their speech so poore, a help affords
Unto their zeals expression; they are mute:
And only with red silence him salute.
Some cry from tops of houses; thinking noyse
The fittest herald to proclaime true joyes:
Others on ground run gazing by his side,
All, as unwearied, as unsatisfied:
And every windore griev'd it could not move
Along with him, and the same trouble prove.
They that had seen, but foure short dayes before,
His gladding look, now long'd to see it more.
And as of late, when he through London went,
The amorous City spar'd no ornament,
That might her beauties heighten; but so drest,
As our ambitious Dames, when they make feast,
And would be courted: so this Town put on
Her brightest tyre; and, in it, equall shone
To her great sister: save that modesty,
Her place, and yeares, grave her precedency.
The joy of either was alike, and full;
No age, nor sexe, so weak, or strongly dull,
That did not beare a part in this consent
Of hearts, and voyces. All the aire was rent,
As with the murmure of a moving wood;
The ground beneath did seeme a moving flood:
Wals, windores, roofs, towers, steeples, all were set
With severall eyes, that in this object met.
Old men were glad, their fates till now did last;
And infants, that the houres had made such hast
To bring them forth: Whil'st riper age'd, and apt
To understand the more, the more were rapt.
This was the peoples love, with which did strive
The Nobles zeale, yet either kept alive
The others flame, as doth the wike and waxe,
That friendly temper'd, one pure taper makes.
Meane while, the reverend Themis draws aside
The Kings obeying will, from taking pride
In these vaine stirs, and to his mind suggests
How he may triumph in his Subjects brests,
'With better pomp. She tels him first, that Kings
'Are here on earth the most conspicuous things:
'That they, by Heaven, are plac'd upon his throne,
'To rule like Heaven; and have no more their own,
'As they are men, then men. That all they do
'Though hid at home, abroad is search'd into:
'And being once found out, discover'd lyes
'Unto as many envies, there, as eyes.
'That Princes, since they know it is their fate,
'Oft-times, to have the secrets of their State
'Betraid to fame, should take more care, and feare
'In publique acts what face and forme they beare.
'She then remembred to his thought the place
'Where he was going; and the upward race
'Of Kings, præceding him in that high Court;
'Their laws, their ends; the men she did report:
'And all so justly, as his eare was joy'd
'To heare the truth, from spight of flattery voyd.
'She shewd him, who made wise, who honest Acts;
'Who both, who neither: all the cunning tracts,
'And thrivings statutes she could promptly note;
'The bloody, base, and barbarous she did quote;
'Where laws were made to serve the tyran' will;
'Where sleeping they could save, and waking kill;
'Where acts gave licence to impetuous lust
'To bury Churches, in forgotten dust,
'And with their ruines raise the panders bowers:
'When, publique justice borrow'd all her powers
'From private chambers; that could then create
'Laws, Judges, Consellors, yea Prince, and State.
'All this she told, and more, with bleeding eyes;
'For Right is as compassionate as wise.
Nor did he seeme their vices so to love,
As once defend, what Themis did reprove.
For though by right, and benefit of Times,
He ownde their crowns, he would not so their crimes.
He knew that Princes, who had sold their fame
To their voluptuous lusts, had lost their name;
And that no wretch was more unblest than he,
Whose necessary good 'twas now to be
An evill King: And so must such be still,
Who once have got the habit to do ill.
One wickednesse another must defend;
For vice is safe, while she hath vice to friend.
He knew, that those, who would, with love, command,
Must with a tender (yet a stedfast) hand
Sustaine the reynes, and in the check forbeare
To offer cause of injury, or feare.
That Kings, by their example, more do sway
Than by their power; and men do more obay
When they are led, than when they are compell'd.
In all these knowing Arts our Prince excell'd.
And now the dame had dried her dropping eyne,
When, like an April Iris, flew her shine
About the streets, as it would force a spring
From out the stones, to gratulate the King.
She blest the people, that in shoales did swim
To heare her speech; which still began in him,
And ceas'd in them. She told them, what a fate
Was gently falne from Heaven upon this State;
How deare a father they did now enjoy
That came to save, what discord would destroy:
And entring with the power of a King,
The temp'rance of a private man did bring,
That wan affections, ere his steps wan ground;
And was not hot, or covetous to be crown'd
Before mens hearts had crown'd him. Who (unlike
Those greater bodies of the sky, that strike
The lesser fiers dim) in his accesse
Brighter than all, hath yet made no one lesse;
Though many greater: and the most, the best.
Wherein, his choice was happy with the rest
Of his great actions, first to see, and do
What all mens wishes did aspire unto.
Hereat, the people could no longer hold
Their bursting joyes; but through the ayre was rol'd
The length'ned showt, as when th'artillery
Of Heaven is discharg'd along the sky:
And this confession flew from every voyce,
Never had Land more reason to rejoyce,
Nor to her blisse, could ought now added bee,
Save, that she might the same perpetuall see.
Which when Time, Nature, and the Fates deny'd,
With a twice louder shoute again they cry'd,
Yet, let blest Brittaine aske (without your wrong)
Still to have such a King, and this King long.
Solus Rex, & Poeta non quotannis nascitur.
Comments about this poem (A Pangyre by Ben Jonson )
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