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Ben Jonson
An Ode - to Himself

Where dost Thou careless lie
Buried in ease and sloth?
Knowledge, that sleeps, doth die;
And this security,
It is the common moth,
That eats on wits and arts, and so destroys them both:

Are all the Aonian springs
Dried up? lies Thespia waste?
Doth Clarius' harp want strings,
That not a nymph now sings;
Or droop they as disgrac'd,
To see their seats and bowers by chattering pies defac'd?

If hence thy silence be,
As 'tis too just a cause;
Let this thought quicken thee:
Minds that are great and free
Should not on fortune pause,
'Tis crown enough to virtue still, her own applause.

What though the greedy fry
Be taken with false baits
Of worded balladry,
And think it poesy?
They die with their conceits,
And only piteous scorn upon their folly waits.

Then take in hand thy lyre,
Strike in thy proper strain,
With Japhet's line, aspire
Sol's chariot for new fire,
To give the world again:
Who aided him, will thee, the issue of Jove's brain.

Ans since our dainty age
Cannot indure reproof,
Make not thyself a page
To that strumpet the stage,
But sing high and aloof,
Save from the wolf's black jaw, and the dull ass's hoof.

Ben Jonson . 1574-1637

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Ben Jonson, An Ode to Himself - Ben Jonson - poetry, poems

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