Ben Jonson

A poet, an essayist, and a playwrite

Biography (You know, a little background information...)

- Born in 1572 in London, England

- He spent most of his life in Westminster, England

- Raised in Westminster and attended St. Martin's parish school and Westminster School, where he came under the influence of the classical scholar William Camden

- Worked shortly as a bricklayer, then served in the military in Flanders, and then an actor/playwright

- A poet, an essayist, and a playwright (Famous works include: An Ode to Himself, A Hymn on the Nativity of my Savior, Song to Celia, and many others.)

- He had many patrons, and his supporters called themselves "Tribe of Ben".

- Humanism: He wrote plays and poems which during that day and age, they were all based more on human divinity.

Secularism: The poetry and plays he wrote were not based on religion, but more on history and just fiction or non fiction.

On My First Son

On My First Son

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.
Seven years thou'wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon 'scap'd world's and flesh's rage,
And, if no other misery, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask'd, say here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.
For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.

- Ben Jonson

-On My First Son

- Written in 1603 after the death of his son.

- It was a very "dark" poem compared to other things he wrote, this involving his son dying at a young age of seven.

- The rhetorical devices used interest me, like the abbreviations or the whole theme of the poem.


Interesting Information

-In 1598, Jonson wrote what is considered his first great play, Every Man in His Humor. In a 1616 production, William Shakespeare acted in one of the lead roles. Shortly after the play opened, Jonson killed Gabriel Spencer in a duel and was tried for murder. He was released by pleading "benefit of clergy" (i.e., by proving he could read and write in Latin, he was allowed to face a more lenient court). He spent only a few weeks in prison, but shortly after his release he was again arrested for failing to pay an actor.

- He was friends with famous poest and playwrites like William Shakespeare and John Donne.

- In 1594, Jonson married Anne Lewis and began to work as an actor and playwright.


Ben Jonson Article: Academy of American Poets. "Ben Jonson." Academy of American Poets. 18 Nov. 2013 <>.


Ben Jonson Photo/Portrait:

On My First Son: