Ben Jonson Essay - Ben Jonson Poetry: British Analysis

Ben Jonson Poetry: British Analysis

Until the last few decades, attention to Ben Jonson’s poetry focused largely on the famous songs and the moving epitaphs on children. Such choices were not ill-advised, but they are unrepresentative. The works in these modes certainly rank among Jonson’s most successful, but they differ in tone from Jonson’s norm.

Songs such as “Kiss me, sweet: the wary lover” and “Drink to me only with thine eyes” evoke emotions beyond the world of reason or fact, partly through reference to extravagant gestures and implausible experiences: hundreds and thousands of kisses, a wreath that will not die after the beloved has breathed on it. Through rhythms that are stronger and less interrupted than Jonson usually created,...

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