Roles of Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick in Poetry

Topics: Ben Jonson, Poetry, Rhyme Pages: 4 (1481 words) Published: October 14, 2008
Based on our study of Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick, one can find many representative characteristics of early seventeenth century poetry, featuring neoclassical ideas and a touch of prerenaissance ideas. These include the moral stance of poetry and a clear, direct “everyman” approach to communication. One will also find much homage to classical themes such as carpe diem and utopia. There are also many classical values, forms, and references to mythology evident in Jonson and Herrick’s work which is so indicative of the era in which their works were published. Thus, poetry of this time includes both classical themes and a new responsibility that came with the public role of poets. A sense of moral obligation is quite prominent in this early poetry, especially in Jonson’s poetry. Jonson published his own material and lived the life he embodied in his poetry. We see him guiding people in much of his works. In one, entitled “On My First Son,” Jonson asks why “will man lament the state he should envy?” (6).In this particular line, he is alluding to death as a release from the human world, and imploring us to consider how, in a sense, we would be lucky to die early. We also see this guidance embodied in much of Herrick’s work. His Corinna’s Going A-Maying proclaims “Come, let us go, while we are in our prime/And take the harmless folly of the time” (57-8). Here he is guiding people to make the most of the day. Both of the aforementioned lines show a sense of moral guidance; however, in Herrick’s case, we are also seeing the old concept of seizing the day. The classical theme of carpe diem is another typical feature of early seventeenth century poetry. The theme of seizing the day and making the most of what you can is often a part of the integral lessons offered in poetry of the day. In one of the stands in Jonson’s To the immortall memorie, and friendship ofthat noble paire, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H.Morison he asks “For, what is life, if measur’d by the space/Not...
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