To Sir Robert Wroth

A poem by Ben Jonson

How blest art thou, canst love the countrey, Wroth,
Whether by choyce, or fate, or both!
And, though so neere the Citie, and the Court,
Art tane with neithers vice, nor sport:
That at great times, art no ambitious guest
Of Sheriffes dinner, or Maiors feast.
Nor com'st to view the better cloth of State;
The richer hangings, or crowne-plate;
Nor throng'st (when masquing is) to have a fight
Of the short braverie of the night;
To view the jewels, stuffes, the paines, the wit
There wasted, some not paid for yet!
But canst, at home, in thy securer rest,
Live, with un-bought provision blest;
Free from proud porches, or their guilded roofes,
'Mongst loughing heards, and solid hoofes:
Along'st the curled woods, and painted meades,
Through which a serpent river leades
To some coole, courteous shade, which he cals his,
And makes sleep softer than it is!
Or, if thou list the night in watch to breake,
A-bed canst heare the loud stag speake,
In spring, oft roused for their masters sport,
Who, for it, makes thy house his court;
Or with thy friends; the heart of all the yeare,
Divid'st, upon the lesser Deere;
In Autumne, at the Partrich mak'st a flight,
And giv'st thy gladder guests the sight;
And, in the Winter, hunt'st the flying Hare,
More for thy exercise, than fare;
While all, that follow, their glad eares apply
To the full greatnesse of the cry:
Or hauking at the River, or the Bush,
Or shooting at the greedy Thrush,
Thou dost with some delight the day out-weare,
Although the coldest of the yeare!
The whil'st the severall seasons thou hast seene
Of flowry Fields, of cop'ces greene,
The mowed Meddows, with the fleeced Sheep,
And feasts, that either shearers keep;
The ripened eares, yet humble in their height,
And furrows laden with their weight;
The apple-harvest, that doth longer last;
The hogs return'd home fat from mast;
The trees cut out in log; and those boughs made
A fire now, that lend a shade!
Thus Pan, and Sylvane, having had their rites,
Comus puts in, for new delights;
And fils thy open hall with mirth, and cheere,
As if in Saturnes raigne it were;
Apollo's Harpe, and Hermes Lyre resound,
Nor are the Muses strangers found:
The rout of rurall folk come thronging in,
(Their rudenesse then is thought no sin)
Thy noblest pouse affords them welcome grace;
And the great Heroes, of her race,
Sit mixt with losse of State, or reverence.
Freedome doth with degree dispence.
The jolly wassall walks the often round,
And in their cups, their cares are drown'd,
They think not, then, which side the cause shall leese,
Nor how to get the Lawyer fees.
Such, and no other was that age, of old,
Which boasts t'have had the head of gold.
And such since thou canst make thine own content,
Strive, Wroth, to live long innocent.
Let others watch in guilty armes, and stand
The fury of a rash command,
Go enter breaches, meet the cannons rage,
That they may sleep with scarres in age.
And shew their feathers shot, and Cullours torne,
And brag that they were therefore borne.
Let this man sweat, and wrangle at the barre,
For every price in every jarre,
And change possessions, oftner with his breath,
Than either money, war, or death:
Let him, than hardest sires, more disinherit,
And each where boast it as his merit,
To blow up Ophanes, Widdows, and their states;
And think his power doth equall Fates.
Let that go heape a masse of wretched wealth,
Purchas'd by rapine, worse than stealth,
And brooding o're it sit, with broadest eyes,
Not doing good, scarce when he dyes.
Let thousands more go flatter vice, and winne,
By being organes to great sin,
Get place and honor, and be glad to keepe
The secrets, that shall breake their sleepe:
And, so they ride in Purple, eat in Plate,
Though poyson, thinke it a great fate.
But thou, my Wroth, if I can truth apply,
Shalt neither that, nor this envy:
Thy peace is made; and, when mans state is well,
'Tis better, if he there can dwell.
God wisheth, none should wracke on a strange shelfe:
To him man's dearer, than t'himselfe.
And, howsoever we may thinke things sweet,
He alwayes gives what he knowes meet;
Which who can use is happy: Such be thou.
Thy mornings and thy evenings Vow
Be thankes to him, and earnest prayer, to finde
A body sound, with sounder minde;
To do thy Countrey service, thy selfe right;
That neither Want doe thee affright,
Nor Death; but when thy latest sand is spent,
Thou maist thinke life, a thing but lent.

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