Ivor Gurney

(1890-1937 / England)

Ben Johnson - Poem by Ivor Gurney

Few have praised the master of masters, who but I
Have right, that followed example, and did not lie
Idly between clean sheets when was work to do.
And saw Paul's tower by Embankment, high over City in dew
Not resolved; sunlight of hidden sun; and with apprentices
Drank, and watched faces in Whitetrairs Lane, to my fancies.
Such work tops all but of Shakespeare, the earths child, the sun's,
He of no fairy gift, but of hard-first resolutions -
And set to build as Bartholomews lover that Saint -
Or Wren in a later day raising great stone from the burnt
History and heart's love of the City London.
(So much merchants', scholars love so dreadfully undone.)
But it not I, that have praised in music his town
Worthy of his praise - and to glory made great stone known.
If not I that of Embankment and Aldgate wrote -
The Age is mean indeed, and honours only by rote.
Chapman, and Marston, Pord, Shirley, marks to frighten;
To frighten those, whom their example should urge and heighten.
The age is honourless, and my walking in loneliness
My long thoughts in strict ways, my work - followings of him,
Are scorn to those whose lives are a wind breadth’s whim.
Follow nor good nor evil - see not, with eyes custom dim

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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