Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
Of the canonical English poets, was there ever a finer rhymester than "rare" Ben Jonson? His poems sing; they are lyrics that require no musical accompaniment, though the impulse to set his words to music must always be great. Jonson's facility with triple rhymes is unrivaled, as in this gorgeous song from his masque Cynthia's Revels (Act I., Sc. ii.):
Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
Yet slower, yet, O faintly gentle springs:
List to the heavy part the music bears,
"Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
Droop herbs and flowers;
Fall grief in showers;
Our beauties are not ours":
O, I could still,
(Like melting snow upon some craggy hill, )
drop, drop, drop, drop,
Since nature's pride is, now, a withered daffodil.
Happy birthday to us, big Ben. -- DL