On My First Son

by Ben Jonson

Start Free Trial

How does the form and meter of the poem "On My First Son" by Ben Jonson reflect the mood of the poem?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The form and meter of “On My First Son” by Ben Jonson contributes to the mood of the poem by emphasizing the beginning of each of the six couplets found in the one stanza poem. The trochee meter emphasizes the first syllable or line which places importance on what it is saying. The first line, “Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy...” sets the tone or mood of the poem immediately as we know that the speaker is saying good-bye to a child. The second line lacks the same emphasis as it explains the feelings the speaker has about saying good-bye. The pattern continues as we learn that the boy was only seven years old when he was “Exacted by fate, on the just day.” In other words, the child was only seven years old when he died; the father is making peace with his death as an act of fate or the boy’s assigned time to pass. The poem follows in the same meter but the poet adds questions about whether it is a good thing that the boy died so young because he will not have to endure aging. As the poem closes in the same pattern, the tone of resignation continues as he asks the boy to do one thing, "Rest in soft peace, and ask’d, say, 'Here doth lie Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.'" The "Rest in peace" is emphasized, but the father quietly asks the boy to explain to anyone in the afterlife who asks that he was Ben Jonson’s greatest work.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team