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‘On My First Son’
by Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
With comment by John Birtwhistle

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 Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;

  My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.

Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,

  Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.

Oh, could I lose all father now! For why

  Will man lament the state he should envy?

To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,

  And, if no other misery, yet age!

Rest in soft peace and, asked, say Here doth lie

  Ben Jonson, his best piece of poetry;

For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such

  As what he loves may never like too much.

Ben Jonson, poet and playwright, was a …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • London: W. Stansby, 1616 (spelling and punctuation modernised).