Stanley J. Solomon: ‘Ben Jonson Discovers the Sonnets’

Ben Jonson Discovers the Sonnets

You say this sonnet was made by Will.
I didn’t know he had the skill
to write in somber lines that rhyme
and stop at fourteen, who’d waste much time
(as playwrights do) compounding words
like heaps of leaves or chirps of birds—
excess of meaning, too many kings,
their battles and betrayals, things
expanding joys and hates and sorrow
not once—tomorrow and tomorrow
and tomorrow—no self-discipline
Where speeches end or where begin

Yet somehow here he’s learned the way—
Succinct, but bearing much to say:
he’s let the couplet hold full sway.

Stanley J. Solomon

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