Ben Jonson(11 June 1572 - 6 August 1637 / London / England)
Conditions of Living
- by Ben Jonson78
Living a whole life has three conditions: absorbing work which demands and brings fulfilment, a group of friends with whom to exchange minds, and a full love to be lost in all the time.
Of these I have the easier two, but lack the third in lacking you.
- by Ben Jonson72
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. Which to effect (since no breast is so sure, Or safe, but she'll procure Some way of entrance) we must plant a guard Of thoughts to watch and ward At th' eye and ear, the ports unto the mind, That no strange, or unkind Object arrive there, but the heart, our spy, Give knowledge instantly To wakeful reason, our affections' king: Who, in th' examining, Will quickly taste the treason, and commit Close, the close cause of it. 'Tis the securest policy we have, To make our sense our slave. But this true course is not embraced by many: By many! scarce by any. For either our affections do rebel, Or else the sentinel, That should ring 'larum to the heart, doth sleep: Or some great thought doth keep Back the intelligence, and falsely swears They're base and idle fears Whereof the loyal conscience so complains. Thus, by these subtle trains, Do several passions invade the mind, And strike our reason blind: Of which usurping rank, some have thought love The first: as prone to move Most frequent tumults, horrors, and unrests, In our inflamed breasts: But this doth from the cloud of error grow, Which thus we over-blow. The thing they here call love is blind desire, Armed with bow, shafts, and fire; Inconstant, like the sea, of whence 'tis born, Rough, swelling, like a storm; With whom who sails, rides on the surge of fear, And boils as if he were In a continual tempest. Now, true love No such effects doth prove; That is an essence far more gentle, fine, Pure, perfect, nay, divine; It is a golden chain let down from heaven, Whose links are bright and even; That falls like sleep on lovers, and combines The soft and sweetest minds In equal knots: this bears no brands, nor darts, To murder different hearts, But, in a calm and god-like unity, Preserves community. O, who is he that, in this peace, enjoys Th' elixir of all joys? A form more fresh than are the Eden bowers, And lasting as her flowers; Richer than Time and, as Times's virtue, rare; Sober as saddest care; A fixed thought, an eye untaught to glance; Who, blest with such high chance, Would, at suggestion of a steep desire, Cast himself from the spire Of all his happiness? But soft: I hear Some vicious fool draw near, That cries, we dream, and swears there's no such thing, As this chaste love we sing. Peace, Luxury! thou art like one of those Who, being at sea, suppose, Because they move, the continent doth so: No, Vice, we let thee know Though thy wild thoughts with sparrows' wings do fly, Turtles can chastely die; And yet (in this t' express ourselves more clear) We do not number here Such spirits as are only continent, Because lust's means are spent; Or those who doubt the common mouth of fame, And for their place and name, Cannot so safely sin: their chastity Is mere necessity; Nor mean we those whom vows and conscience Have filled with abstinence: Though we acknowledge who can so abstain, Makes a most blessed gain; He that for love of goodness hateth ill, Is more crown-worthy still Than he, which for sin's penalty forbears: His heart sins, though he fears. But we propose a person like our Dove, Graced with a Phoenix' love; A beauty of that clear and sparkling light, Would make a day of night, And turn the blackest sorrows to bright joys: Whose odorous breath destroys All taste of bitterness, and makes the air As sweet as she is fair. A body so harmoniously composed, As if nature disclosed All her best symmetry in that one feature! O, so divine a creature Who could be false to? chiefly, when he knows How only she bestows The wealthy treasure of her love on him; Making his fortunes swim In the full flood of her admired perfection? What savage, brute affection, Would not be fearful to offend a dame Of this excelling frame? Much more a noble, and right generous mind, To virtuous moods inclined, That knows the weight of guilt: he will refrain From thoughts of such a strain, And to his sense object this sentence ever, 'Man may securely sin, but safely never.'
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