Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
On Lucy, Countess of Bedford
By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
 
THIS 1 morning timely wrapt with holy fire,
I thought to form unto my zealous Muse,
What kind of creature I could most desire
To know, serve, and love, as Poets use.
I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise,        5
Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great;
I meant the day-star should not brighter rise,
Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat;
I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride;        10
I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
Fit in that softer bosom to reside.
Only a learnèd, and a manly soul
I purposed her: that should with even powers,
The rock, the spindle, and the shears control        15
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.
Such when I meant to feign, and wished to see,
My Muse bade BEDFORD write, and that was she!
 
Note 1. From Epigrams, 1616. Lucy, Countess of Bedford, sister and coheir of the second Lord Harrington, was a gifted woman of varied attainments and distinguished by her liberal patronage of men of genius; Drayton, Donne, Daniel, and Jonson being especially indebted to her munificence, for which all of them have paid poetical tribute. She died in 1627. [back]
 
 
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