Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Poem of the week: Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount by Ben Jonson

From the introduction to a sharp Elizabethan satire, these lines still come about as close to music as words can get

‘Nature’s pride is, now, a withered daffodil’ ... spring flowers in Scotland hit by late snow. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
   Yet slower, yet, O faintly, gentle springs:
List to the heavy part the music bears,
   Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
      Droop, herbs and flowers,
      Fall grief in showers;
      Our beauties are not ours:
         O, I could still,
Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
      Drop, drop, drop, drop,
Since nature’s pride is, now, a withered daffodil.

This week’s poem, sometimes anthologised as Echo’s Song, is from Act I, Scene 2 of Ben Jonson’s “comical satyr” Cynthia’s Revels, or, The Fountain of Self-Love.


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