Ben Jonson Essay - Ben Jonson Poetry: British Analysis

Ben Jonson Poetry: British Analysis

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

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,...

(The entire section is 4307 words.)