An Elegy

by Ben Jonson

Though beauty be the mark of praise,
   And yours, of whom I sing, be such
   As not the world can praise too much,
Yet is 't your virtue now I raise.

A virtue, like allay, so gone
   Throughout your form, as though that move,
   And draw, and conquer all men's love,
This subjects you to love of one,

Wherein you triumph yet: because
   'Tis of yourself, and that you use
   The noblest freedom, not to choose
Against or faith, or honour's laws.

But who could less expect from you,
   In whom alone Love lives again?
   By whom he is restored to men;
And kept, and bred, and brought up true?

His falling temples you have reared,
   The withered garlands ta'en away;
   His altars kept from the decay
That envy wished, and nature feared;

And on them burns so chaste a flame,
   With so much loyalty's expense,
   As Love, t' acquit such excellence,
Is gone himself into your name.

And you are he: the deity
   To whom all lovers are designed,
   That would their better objects find;
Among which faithful troop am I;

Who, as an offering at your shrine,
   Have sung this hymn, and here entreat
   One spark of your diviner heat
To light upon a love of mine;

Which, if it kindle not, but scant
   Appear, and that to shortest view,
   Yet give me leave t' adore in you
What I, in her, am grieved to want.

Monadnock Valley Press > Jonson