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To Celia
Ben Jonson (1573-1637)

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Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
1573-1637


Theme:  Love and Romance

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NOTES:
To Celia (sometimes titled Song To Celia) is one of the most recognized poems in the English language. Written by poet/playwright Ben Jonson (a contemporary of Shakespeare's), Jonson actually lifted the gist of the verse from the love letters of an ancient Greek by the name of Philostratus (c. 210). The song, first set to music in the 18th century, has received numerous renderings.  My favorite is from Country Music legend Johnny Cash:  Cash and Elizabethan poetry – you can't beat that!
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- S. H. Bass  


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To Celia
Ben Jonson (1573-1637), English playwright and poet
                                                                                 reading of Jonson's To Celia
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be;
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself but thee!


from The Forest (1616)


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