CHAPTER VII
THE POEMS

JONSON's admirers hesitate when they come to consider his quality as a poet. His studied realism, his satire, his critical habit, his aggressive pedantry seem to deny him, almost of necessity, what comes freely to so many, even of inferior talent, in the Great Age. We can never think of him as we think of Shakespeare and Fletcher. If the concert-room occasionally reminds us of his song To Celia and the anthologies of the epitaph on the Countess of Pembroke, we like to qualify our admiration by giving half the credit of the one to an ancient Greek and perhaps all the honour of the other to a minor English contemporary. It seems so useless to look for the lyrical note and the abandon of the poet in the analyst and scholar. Popular opinion has never had any illusions about the Winged Horse as a Jonsonian symbol. It thinks of steadily driven furrows in heavy soil, of obedience to the critical flick and call. It expects no Hippocrene to start under this laboured hoof, and, though allowing that in the scholar's cabbage-patch springs may break forth and that Helicon itself is often dry, is so convinced of the security of Jonson's art

-213-

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Ben Jonson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chapter I- Early Life 1
  • Chapter II- Middle Life and Close 23
  • Chapter III- Literary Conscience 56
  • Chapter IV- The Comedies 66
  • Chapter V- The Masques 128
  • Chapter VI- The Tragedies- The Sad Shepherd 185
  • Chapter VII- The Poems 213
  • Chapter VIII- Spolia Opima 249
  • Chapter IX- Influence 272
  • Index 303
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