On my first Sonne - quote analysis

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On my first Sonne ­ Ben Jonson
Themes: Death, Relationships, and Love
Modern translation: Explores the theme of parental
Goodbye, my favourite child and source of joy. Written about the poets son who
It's my fault that I hoped for too much for you, the died
boy I loved. He reveals that it was his sins that
You were only with us for 7 years and, as if you were caused the death of his son
lent to us, Sense of loss and resignation
Now it is the right time to give you back. Poet resigns himself to his son's
If only I could lose all my fatherly feelings. death
Why do we feel sorry that someone has died This poem can be described as elegiac
when we should want to die (and be with God)? (elegies)
Especially as my son has died so young
and escaped all the problems which the world brings, The spelling of many words in the poem is
Like the results of bodily passions and, archaic (oldfashioned) e.g. `sinne',
If nothing else bad, old age. `loose', `yeeres'.
My son, rest in soft peace ­ sleep peacefully in death.
If anyone asks you who you are, say
"Here lies Ben Jonson's best piece of poetry ­ his
For my son's sake I swear that, from now on,
I won't hold on too tight to the things I love.
The father sees his boys' life as a loan, which he has had to repay, after 7 years, on the day
set for this `just day' ­ this extended metaphor expresses the idea that all people really
belong to God.
Structural methods
12 lines long in iambic pentameter to convey his sadness at his sons' death.
Rhyming couplets ­ first line `joy' and `boy'
10 syllables per line
Poem is written in the form of an address to his dead son ­ but really shows
Jonson's own feelings
Rhetorical questions ­ `Will man lament the state he should envy?'
Language techniques
Metaphors ­ `Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy' `Ben. Jonson his best
piece of poetrie'
Alliteration ­ `Soon scap'd' shows the persona's misery.
Caesura "Ben. Jonson" emphasises the idea of death, as well as showing a
personal touch by "hovering" on the first name... this is also evident in the title, where
"sonne" could be seen as a shortened version of sonnet, as the poem is essentially a

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All of this links directly to the idea of a life
being cut short.
`Farewell, thou child of my right hand...' Subordinate clause/metaphor ­ suggests his son
was `lent' to him, creates a sense that his loss was
inevitable. Also the relationship (parent and child)
was created by an outside force, God.
His son would have been the writer's heir (image
comes from the Bible ­ reflects ancient culture and
the way Jesus is shown sitting at God's right hand.…read more

Page 3

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The rhyming couplet is at the same time both an
epigram and epitaph.
He is contradicting himself because he is vowing on
his son, not God.…read more


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