Sunday, February 08, 2015

Tottering Toward 70

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—Ben Jonson

Now that the harth is crown'd with smiling fire, 

And some do drink, and some do dance, 

Some ring, 

Some sing, 

And all do strive t'advance 

The gladnesse higher: 

Wherefore should I 

Stand silent by. 

Who not the least, 

Both love the cause, and authors of the feast. 

Give me my cup, but from the Thespian Well, 

That I may tell to Sydney, what 

This day 

Doth say, 

And he may think on that 

Which I do tell: 

When all the noyse 

Of these forc'd joyes, 

Are fled and gone, 

And he, with his best Genius left alone. 

This day says, then, the number of glad yeares 

Are justly summ'd, that make you man; 

Your vow 

Must now 

Strive all right ways it can, 

T'out-strip your peeres: 

Since he doth lack 

Of going back 

Little, whose will 

Doth urge him to run wrong, or to stand still. 

Nor can a little of the common store, 

Of nobles vertue, shew in you; 

Your blood 

So good 

And great, must seek for new, 

And study more: 

Nor weary, rest 

On what's deceast. 

For they, that swell 

With dust of ancestors, in graves but dwell. 

'Twill be exacted of your name, whose sonne, 

Whose nephew, whose grand-child you are; 

And men 

Will, then, 

Say you have follow'd farre, 

When well begun: 

Which must be now, 

They teach you, how. 

And he that stayes 

To live untill to morrow 'hath lost two dayes. 

So may you live in honor, as in name, 

If with this truth you be inspir'd; 

So may 

This day 

Be more, and long desir'd: 

And with the flame 

Of love bee bright, 

As with the light 

Of bone-fires. Then 

The Birth-day shines, when logs not burne, but men.


—Medusa, with thanks to all my birthday well-wishers as I celebrated 69 this week. A cusp year, yes?—tottering toward 70, and toward who knows what new adventures! "And he that stayes To live untill to morrow 'hath lost two dayes..."

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