Interesting Literature

Ben Jonson’s touching elegy on his son, ‘child of his right hand’

Ben Jonson’s short poem for his son Benjamin, who died aged seven, is one of the most moving short elegies in the English language. Jonson (1572-1637) was a contemporary of William Shakespeare and, like the Bard, wrote poems as well as the plays for which he is well-known. Here is his poem ‘On my First Son’, along with a short analysis of it.

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sinne was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy,
Seven yeeres thou’wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father, now. For why
Will man lament the fate he should envíe?
To have so soon scap’d worlds, and fleshes rage,
And, if no other miserie, yet age?

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