On My First Sonne

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"On My First Sonne- olden day English meaning "son"", a poem by Ben Jonson, was written in 1603 and published in 1616 after the death of Jonson's first son Benjamin at the age of seven.[1][2] The poem, a reflection of a father's pain in his young son's death, is rendered more acutely moving when compared with Jonson's other, usually more cynical or mocking, poetry. It is clearly different to the poem written about his daughter's death, which does not show the loss on such an intense level.

On My First Sonne

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sinne was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy
Seven yeeres thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I loose all father, now. For why
Will man lament the state he should envie?
To have so soone scap'd worlds, and fleshes rage,
And, if no other miserie, yet age
Rest in soft peace, and, ask'd, say here doth lye
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetrie.
For whose sake, hence-forth, all his vowes be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.


  1. ^ New York University's database of prose, poetry, film, video and art. (DEAD LINK)
  2. ^ New York University's database of literature, arts, and medicine.