A Part of an Ode

to the Immortal Memory and Friendship of that noble pair, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison

Ben Jonson.
1573–1637

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 at last, 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.

 

    Call, noble Lucius, then for wine,

    And let thy looks with gladness shine:

Accept this garland, plant it on thy head,

And think—nay, know—thy Morison ’s not dead.

        He leap’d the present age,

        Possest with holy rage

    To see that bright eternal Day

    Of which we Priests and Poets say

Such truths as we expect for happy men;

And there he lives with memory—and Ben

 

Jonson: who sung this of him, ere he went

        Himself to rest,

Or tast a part of that full joy he meant

        To have exprest

    In this bright Asterism

    Where it were friendship’s schism—

Were not his Lucius long with us to tarry—

        To separate these twy

        Lights, the Dioscuri,

And keep the one half from his Harry.

But fate doth so alternate the design,

Whilst that in Heav’n, this light on earth must shine.

 

    And shine as you exalted are!

    Two names of friendship, but one star:

Of hearts the union: and those not by chance

Made, or indenture, or leased out to advance

        The profits for a time.

        No pleasures vain did chime

    Of rimes or riots at your feasts,

    Orgies of drink or feign’d protests;

But simple love of greatness and of good,

That knits brave minds and manners more than blood.

 

    This made you first to know the Why

    You liked, then after, to apply

That liking, and approach so one the t’other

Till either grew a portion of the other:

        Each stylèd by his end

        The copy of his friend.

    You lived to be the great surnames

    And titles by which all made claims

Unto the Virtue—nothing perfect done

But as a CARY or a MORISON.

 

And such the force the fair example had

        As they that saw

The good, and durst not practise it, were glad

        That such a law

    Was left yet to mankind,

    Where they might read and find

FRIENDSHIP indeed was written, not in words,

        And with the heart, not pen,

        Of two so early men,

Whose lines her rules were and records:

Who, ere the first down bloomèd on the chin,

Had sow’d these fruits, and got the harvest in.

 

literature, poetry
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