ODE ON MELANCHOLY - Ben Jonson Poems


Poems » ben jonson » ode on melancholy


No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
     Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
     By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
          Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
     Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
          Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
     For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
          And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
     Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
     And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
     Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
          Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
     Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
          And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
     And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
     Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
     Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
          Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
     Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
          And be among her cloudy trophies hung.