Ben Jonson

(11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637 / London / England)

Iv: To The World - Poem by Ben Jonson

A farewell for a Gentlewoman, vertuous and noble

False world, good-night, since thou hast brought
That houre upon my morne of age,
Hence-forth I quit thee from my thought,
My part is ended on thy stage.
Doe not once hope, that thou canst tempt
A spirit so resolv'd to tread
Upon thy throat, and live exempt
From all the nets that thou canst spread.
I know thy formes are studied arts,
Thy subtill wayes, be narrow straits;
Thy curtesie but sudden starts,
And what thou call'st thy gifts are baits.
I know too, though thou strut, and paint,
Yet art thou both shrunke up, and old;
That onely fooles make thee a saint,
And all thy good is to be sold.
I know thou whole art but a shop
Of toyes, and trifles, traps, and snares,
To take the weake, or make them stop:
Yet art thou falser than thy wares.
And, knowing this should I yet stay,
Like such as blow away their lives,
And never will redeeme a day,
Enamor'd of their golden gyves?
Or having scap'd, shall I returne,
And thrust my neck into the noose,
From whence, so lately, I did burne,
With all my powers, my selfe to loose?
What bird, or beast is knowne so dull,
That fled his cage, or broke his chaine,
And tasting aire, and freedome, wull
Render his head in there againe?
If these, who have but sense, can shun
The engines, that have them annoy'd;
Little, for mee, had reason done,
If I could not thy ginnes avoid.
Yes, threaten, doe. Alas I feare
As little, as I hope from thee:
I know thou canst nor shew, nor beare
More hatred, than thou hast to mee.
My tender, first, and simple yeares
Thou did'st abuse, and then betray;
Since stird'st up jealousies and feares,
When all the causes were away.
Then, in a soile hast planted me,
Where breathe the basest of thy fooles;
Where envious arts professed be,
And pride, and ignorance the schooles,
Where nothing is examin'd, weigh'd,
But, as 'tis rumor'd, so beleev'd:
Where every freedome is betray'd,
And every goodnesse tax'd, or griev'd.
But, what we'are borne for, wee must beare:
Our fraile condition it is such,
That, what to all may happen here,
If't chance to mee, I must not grutch.
Else, I my state should much mistake,
To harbour a divided thought
From all my kinde: that, for my sake,
There should a miracle be wrought.
No, I doe know, that I was borne
To age, misfortune, sicknesse, griefe:
But I will beare these, with that scorne,
As shall not need thy false reliefe.
Nor for my peace will I goe farre,
As wandrers doe, that still doe rome;
But make my strengths, such as they are,
Here in my bosome, and at home.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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