The Muses’ fairest light in no dark time,
The wonder of a learned age; the line
Which none can pass; the most proportioned wit
To nature; the best judge of what was fit;
The deepest, plainest, highest clearest pen;
The voice most echoed by consenting men,
The soul which answered best to all well said
By others, and which most requital made;
Turned to the highest hey of ancient Rome,
Returning all her music with his own;
In whom, with nature, study claimed a part,
And yet who to himself owed all his art:
Here lies Ben Jonson. Every age will look
With sorrow here, with wonder on his book.
Thanks, Sidney Godolphin, for the superlatives. They’re all very true, I’m sure — especially that bit about the ages looking on in wonder (mostly they’re wondering who Ben Jonson is, but we’ll overlook that, just for today).
Happy birthday, Ben!
11 June 2009 ~ St. Catharines