Collected Poems
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BEN JONSON ENTERTAINS A MAN FROM STRATFORD
And all confused at once, I understand,
Is not what makes a man to live forever.
O no, not now ! He ' ll not be going now :
There ' ll be time yet for God knows what explosions
Before he goes. He ' ll stay awhile. Just wait:
Just wait a year or two for Cleopatra,
For she ' s to be a balsam and a comfort;
And that ' s not all a jape of mine now, either.
For granted once the old way of Apollo
Sings in a man, he may then, if he ' s able,
Strike unafraid whatever strings he will
Upon the last and wildest of new lyres;
Nor out of his new magic, though it hymn
The shrieks of dungeoned hell, shall he create
A madness or a gloom to shut quite out
A cleaving daylight, and a last great calm
Triumphant over shipwreck and all storms.
He might have given Aristotle creeps,
But surely would have given him his Tcatliarsis.
He ' ll not be going yet. There ' s too much yet
Unsung within the man. But when he goes,
I ' d stake ye coin o ' the realm his only care
For a phantom world he sounded and found wanting
Will be a portion here, a portion there,
Of this or that thing or some other thing
That has a patent and intrinsical
Equivalence in those egregious shillings.
And yet he knows, God help him! Tell me, now,
If ever there was anything let loose
On earth by gods or devils heretofore
Like this mad, careful, proud, indifferent Shakespeare !
Where was it, if it ever was ? By heaven,
' Twas never yet in Rhodes or Pergamon
In Thebes or Nineveh, a thing like this !
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