Ben Jonson

11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637 / London / England

To Penshurst

Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show,
Of touch, or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polish'd pillars, or a roofe of gold:
Thou hast no lantherne, whereof tales are told;
Or stayre, or courts; but stand'st an ancient pile,
And these grudg'd at, art reverenc'd the while.
Thou joy'st in better marks, of soile, of ayre,
Of wood, of water: therein thou art faire.
Thou hast thy walkes for health, as well as sport:
, to which the
do resort,
Where Pan, and Bacchus their high feasts have made,
Beneath the broad beech, and the chest-nut shade;
That taller tree, which of a nut was set,
At his great birth, where all the
There, in the writhed barke, are cut the names
Of many a Sylvane, taken with his flames
And thence the ruddy
oft provoke
The lighter
, to reach thy
Ladies oke
Thy copp's, too, nam'd of Gamage, thou hast there,
That never failes to serve thee season'd deere,
When thou would'st feast, or exercise thy friends.
The lower land, that to the river bends,
Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed:
The middle grounds thy Mares, and Horses breed.
Each banck, doth yeeld thee Coneyes; and the topps
Fertile of wood, Ashore, and Sydney's copp's,
To crown thy open table, doth provide
The purpled Phesant, with the speckled side:
The painted Partrich lyes in every field,
And, for thy messe, is willing to be kill'd.
And if the high-swolne
faile thy dish,
Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,
Fat, aged Carps, that run into thy net.
And Pikes, now weary their own kinde to eat,
As loth, the second draught, or cast to stay,
Officiously, at first, themselves betray.
Bright Eeles, that emulate them, and leap on land;
Before the fisher, or into his hand.
Then hath thy Orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Fresh as the ayre, and new as are the houres.
The earely Cherry, with the later Plum,
Fig, Grape, and Quince, each in his time doth come:
The blushing Apricot, and woolly Peach
Hang on thy wals, that every child may reach.
And though thy wals be of the countrey stone,
They' are rear'd with no mans ruine, no mans grone;
There's none, that dwell about them, wish them downe;
But all come in, the farmer and the clowne:
And no one empty-handed, to salute
Thy Lord, and Lady, though they have no sute.
Some bring a Capon, some a rurall Cake,
Some Nuts, some Apples; some that think they make
The better Cheeses, bring 'hem; or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands; and whose baskets beare
An Embleme of themselves, in plum, or peare.
But what can this (more than expresse their love)
Adde to thy free provisions, farre above
The need of such? whose liberall boord doth flow,
With all, that hospitality doth know!
Where comes no guest, but is allow'd to eat,
Without his feare, and of thy Lords own meat:
Where the same beere, and bread, and selfe-same wine,
That is his Lordships, shall be also mine.
And I not faine to sit (as some, this day,
At great mens tables) and yet dine away.
Here no man tels my cups; nor, standing by,
A waiter, doth my gluttony envy:
But gives me what I call for, and lets me eate;
He knowes, below, he shall finde plentie of meate;
Thy tables hoord not up for the next day,
Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray
For fire, or lights, or livorie: all is there;
As if thou, then, wert mines, or I raign'd here:
There's nothing I can wish, for which I stay.
That found King James, when hunting late, this way,
With his brave sonne, the Prince, they saw thy fires
Shine bright on every harth as the desires
Of thy Penates had beene set on flame,
To entertayne them; or the Countrey came,
With all their zeale, to warme their welcome here.
What (great, I will not say, but) sodaine cheare
Didst thou, then, make 'hem! and what praise was heap'd
On thy good lady, then! who therein, reap'd
The just reward of her high huswifery;
To have her linnen, plate, and all things nigh,
When she was farre: and not a roome, but drest,
As if it had expected such a guest!
These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all.
Thy lady's noble, fruitfull, chaste withall.
His children thy great lord may call his owne:
A fortune, in this age, but rarely knowne.
They are, and have been taught religion: Thence
Their gentler spirits have suck'd innocence.
Each morne, and even, they are taught to pray,
With the whole houshold, and may, every day,
Reade, in their vertuous parents noble parts,
The mysteries of manners, armes, and arts.
Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee
With other edifices, when they see
Those proud, ambitious heaps, and nothing else,
May say, their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.
187 Total read