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ben jonson Quotes

Ben Jonson Quotes

Birth Date: 1572-06-11 (Sunday, June 11th, 1572)
Date of Death: 1637-08-06 (Thursday, August 6th, 1637)


ben jonson life timeline

Ben Jonson is indicted for manslaughter.Tuesday, September 22nd, 1598


    • Art hath an enemy called Ignorance.
    • 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.
    • True happiness Consists not in the multitude of friends, But in the worth and choice.
    • Queen and huntress, chaste and fair, Now the sun is laid to sleep, Seated in thy silver chair, State in wonted manner keep: Hesperus entreats thy light, Goddess, excellently bright.
    • That old bald cheater, Time.
    • Of all wild beasts preserve me from a tyrant; and of all tame, a flatterer.
    • Calumnies are answered best with silence.
    • You that would last long, list to my song, Make no more coil, but buy of this oil. Would you be ever fair and young? Stout of teeth and strong of tongue? Tart of palate, quick of ear? Sharp of sight, of nostril clear? Moist of hand and light of foot? (Or, I will come nearer to it) Would you live free from all diseases, Do the act your mistress pleases; Yet fright all aches from your bones? Here's a medicine for the nones.
    • Preserving the sweetness of proportion and expressing itself beyond expression.
    • Still to be neat, still to be drest, As you were going to a feast; Still to be powder'd, still perfum'd, Lady, it is to be presum'd, Though art's hid causes are not found, All is not sweet, all is not sound. Give me a look, give me a face, That makes simplicity a grace; Robes loosely flowing, hair as free, Such sweet neglect more taketh me Than all the adulteries of art: They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
    • Thou look'st like Antichrist in that lewd hat.
    • Where it concerns himself, Who's angry at a slander makes it true.
    • The dignity of truth is lost With much protesting.
    • So breaks the sun earth's rugged chains, Wherein rude winter bound her veins; So grows both stream and source of price, That lately fettered were with ice. So naked trees get crisped heads, And coloured coats the roughest meads, And all get vigour, youth and spright, That are but looked on by his light.
    • I will eat exceedingly, and prophesy.
    • Reader, look, Not at his picture, but his book.
    • Truth is the trial of itself And needs no other touch, And purer than the purest gold, Refine it ne'er so much.
    • Pray thee, take care, that tak'st my book in hand, To read it well: that is, to understand.
    • If all you boast of your great art be true; Sure, willing poverty lives most in you.
    • There's reason good, that you good laws should make: Men's manners ne'er were viler, for your sake.
    • He that fears death, or mourns it, in the just, Shows of the resurrection little trust.
    • 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. O, could I lose all father now. For why Will man lament the state he should envy? To have 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.
    • Thy praise or dispraise is to me alike; One doth not stroke me, nor the other strike.
    • The ports of death are sins; of life, good deeds: Through which our merit leads us to our meeds. How willful blind is he then, that would stray, And hath it in his powers, to make his way! This world death's region is, the other life's: And here, it should be one of our first strifes, So to front death, as men might judge us past it. For good men but see death, the wicked taste it.
    • Thus, in his belly, can he change a sin, Lust it comes out, that gluttony went in.
    • Underneath this stone doth lie As much beauty as could die; Which in life did harbor give To more virtue than doth live.
    • Come my Celia, let us prove, While we can, the sports of love; Time will not be ours forever, He at length our good will sever. Spend not then his gifts in vain; Suns that set may rise again, But if once we lose this light, 'Tis with us perpetual night.
    • Follow a shadow, it still flies you; Seem to fly it, it will pursue: So court a mistress, she denies you; Let her alone, she will court you.
    • Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup And I'll not look for wine. The thirst that from the soul doth rise Doth ask a drink divine; But might I of Jove's nectar sup, I would not change for thine. I sent thee late a rosy wreath, Not so much honoring thee As giving it a hope that there It could not withered be. But thou thereon didst only breathe, And sent'st it back to me; Since when it grows and smells, I swear, Not of itself, but thee.
    • Not to know vice at all, and keep true state, Is virtue, and not fate: Next to that virtue is to know vice well, And her black spite expel.
    • Whilst that for which all virtue now is sold, And almost every vice - almighty gold.
    • Soul of the age! The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage! My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by Chaucer or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie A little further, to make thee a room; Thou art a monument, without a tomb, And art alive still, while thy book doth live, And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
    • He was not of an age, but for all time.
    • Who casts to write a living line, must sweat.
    • For a good poet's made, as well as born.
    • Sweet Swan of Avon!
    • I now think, Love is rather deaf, than blind, For else it could not be, That she, Whom I adore so much, should so slight me, And cast my love behind.
    • Where dost thou careless lie, Buried in ease and sloth? Knowledge that sleeps, doth die; And this security, It is the common moth, That eats on wits and arts, and oft destroys them both.
    • Rhyme, the rack of finest wits, That expresseth but by fits, True conceit, Spoiling senses of their treasure, Cozening judgement with a measure, But false weight. Wresting words from their true calling; Propping verse, for fear of falling To the ground. Jointing syllables, drowning letters, Fastening vowels, as with fetters They were bound!
    • Those that merely talk and never think, That live in the wild anarchy of drink.
    • It is not growing like a tree In bulk, doth make man better be; Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, To fall a log, dry, bald and sere: A lily of a day, Is fairer far, in May, Although it fall, and die that night; It was the plant and flower of light. In small proportions we just beauties see, And in short measures life may perfect be.
    • The voice so sweet, the words so fair, As some soft chime had stroked the air; And, though the sound were parted thence, Still left an echo in the sense.
    • Opinion is a light, vain, crude, and imperfect thing;
    • A good life is a main argument.
    • It is as great a spite to be praised in the wrong place, and by a wrong person, as can be done to a noble nature.
    • A cripple in the way out-travels a footman or a post out of the way.
    • Folly often goes beyond her bounds; but Impudence knows none.
    • It is an art to have so much judgment as to apparel a lie well, to give it a good dressing.
    • The players often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, 'Would he had blotted a thousand.'
    • I loved the man [Shakespeare] and do honor his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any.
    • They say princes learn no art truly, but the art of horsemanship. The reason is, the brave beast is no flatterer. He will throw a prince as soon as his groom.
    • Greatness of name in the father oft-times overwhelms the son; they stand too near one another. The shadow kills the growth: so much, that we see the grandchild come more and oftener to be heir of the first.
    • Though the most be players, some must be spectators.
    • Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak, and to speak well, are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.
    • One, though he be excellent and the chief, is not to be imitated alone; for never no imitator ever grew up to his author; likeness is always on this side truth. Yet there happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking; his language (where he could spare or pass by a jest) was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough, or look aside from him, without loss. He commanded where he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was lest he should make an end.
    • That Shakespeare wanted Art.
    • He cursed Petrarch for redacting verses to sonnets, which he said were like that tyrant's bed, where some who were too short were racked, others too long cut short.
    • That Donne himself, for not being understood, would perish.
    • Shakespeare, in a play, brought in a number of men saying they had suffered shipwreck in Bohemia, where there is no sea by some 100 miles.
    • He saw in a vision his eldest son (then a child and at London) appear unto him with the mark of a bloody cross on his forehead, as if it had been cutted with a sword, at which amazed he prayed unto God, and in the morning he came to Mr. Camden's chamber to tell him, who persuaded him it was but an apprehension of his fantasy at which he should not be disjected; in the meantime comes there letters from his wife of the death of that boy in the plague. He appeared to him (he said) of a manly shape, and of that growth that he thinks he shall be at the resurrection.
    • He hath consumed a whole night in lying looking to his great toe, about which he hath seen Tartars and Turks, Romans and Carthaginians, fight in his imagination.
    • His opinion of verses. That he wrote all his first in prose, for so his master Camden had learned him. That verses stood by sense without either colours or accent; which yet other times he denied.
    • A gentleman reading a poem that began with Where is that man that never yet did hear Of fair Penelope, Ulysses' queen? [Jonson] calling his cook, asked if he had ever heard of her, who answering 'No,' demonstrate to him Lo, there the man that never yet did hear Of fair Penelope, Ulysses' queen.
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