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Known for his precise, sometimes witty, and elegant poetry, Ben Johnson was influenced by the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans. as he employed classical poetical forms and often allusions in his work.
- In his twelve-lined verse, an elegy for his boy who died in the Plague, Johnson makes extensive use of metaphor and rhyming couplets. In the first two lines, for instance, "child of my right hand" is a metaphor for how much Johnson felt his boy was from him. That is, much like the Michelangelo fresco in which God touches Adam with his right hand in a biblical allusion, and Adam is formed, the poet envisions himself with his own son. "Child of my right hand" is also the literal translation of the Hebrew name Benjamin.
- While lines 5 and 6 do not rhyme today, they probably rhymed in the time of Johnson, when people pronounced "why" as "Whee." Also, the word "lie" at the end of line 9 probably has a more antiquated pronunciation which would rhyme with "poetry." The twelve verses are balanced in length
- In line 5, Johnson makes use of exclamatory emotion now, much like the ancients: "O, could I lose all father, now." These words allow Johnson to express his emotions in classical metaphoric form as he can exclaim against fate like the ancients, another concept characteristic of the Ancients.
- Perhaps in the most eloquent phrase in the poem, Johnson terms his son, "his best piece of poetry," an epithet that expresses the father's deep love for his son. [An epithet is a word or phrase that states a characteristic quality of a person or thing.]
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