She Shall Make The Old Man Young

Ben Johnson (1572 – 1637)

There never was a great genius without a touch of madness.

Ben Johnson

 

Doing, A Filthy Pleasure Is

by Gaius Petronius
Translated by Ben Johnson

 
Doing, a filthy pleasure is, and short;
And done, we straight repent us of the sport:
Let us not then rush blindly on unto it,
Like lustful beasts, that only know to do it:
For lust will languish, and that heat decay.
But thus, thus, keeping endless holiday,
Let us together closely lie and kiss,
There is no labour, nor no shame in this;
This hath pleased, doth please, and long will please; never
Can this decay, but is beginning ever.
 
 

Time has a way of white washing the past.    In Ben Johnson’s case what has lived on into the future are his words as a brilliant playwright and poet, not his murderous misdeeds.   On September 22nd, 1598, Johnson,  a young man of twenty-six, a former bricklayer turned playwright, his play Every Man in his Humour only recently debuted, got in an altercation with a young actor named Gabriel Spencer.  Both men had a history of violence and tempers quickly escalated. Spencer had previously publicly threatened to kill a boy who threw a candle stick at him and Johnson boasted among his drinking mates of killing a man when he was younger, which his friends could never discern if the tale was true or whether Johnson used it to polish his reputation.  What is not in dispute is that Spencer challenged Johnson to a duel and Johnson promptly ran him through with his sword, killing him instantly.  Johnson was arrested a week hence and thrown in Newgate Prison.   He was arraigned on October 6th and confessed to the crime of manslaughter for which the court had a reputation for sentencing the lower classes to death by hanging.  However, Johnson, who looked like a laborer,  made a calculated defense and called upon an obscure legal statute called “neck verse.”   It allowed for the trial to be made in front of the clergy as jury rather than a hanging judge.  During this alternative trial, the accused would be asked to sight-translate a random passage from the Latin Bible.  If the criminal could pass the test it was proof of his religious stature and advanced education.   In such cases, the court had the ability to grant clemency during sentencing,  considering the crime a reflection of  temporary insanity and not an indication of the accused true nature.   It worked, Johnson was exonerated.  He left Newgate Prison a free man, with only a brand upon his thumb to remind him of the blood he had spilled.  The brand was a “T” for Tyburn, the gallows, where he would have met his end.  Johnson no longer had to embellish his reputation,  he had the mark for life to prove he was a killer. 


A Celebration of Charis: I. His Excuse for Loving

by Ben Johnson
 
Let it not your wonder move,
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years,
I have had, and have, my peers;
Poets, though divine, are men,
Some have lov’d as old again.
And it is not always face,
Clothes, or fortune, gives the grace;
Or the feature, or the youth.
But the language and the truth,
With the ardour and the passion,
Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then will read the story,
First prepare you to be sorry
That you never knew till now
Either whom to love or how;
But be glad, as soon with me,
When you know that this is she
Of whose beauty it was sung;
She shall make the old man young,
Keep the middle age at stay,
And let nothing high decay,
Till she be the reason why
All the world for love may die.

For Old Religion’s Sake

download (2)
Ben Johnson (1572 – 1637)

“Tears are the noble language of eyes, and when true love of words is destitute. The eye by tears speak, while the tongue is mute.”

Robert Herrick

 

A Prayer To Ben Johnson

by Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)

When I a verse shall make,
Know I have pray’d thee
For old religion’s sake,
Saint Ben to aid me.

Make the way smooth for me,
When I, thy Herrick,
Honouring thee, on my knee
Offer my lyric.

Candles I’ll give to thee,
And a new altar,
And thou, Saint Ben, shalt be
Writ in my psalter.


Ben Johnson has the unique position of being the only person buried upright in Westminster Abby.   Is it because he preferred people trampling on his head and not his heart or was that all the room the church could find at the time?  Johnson was a playwright, humorist, scholar and poet.  His writing landed him in jail several times and got him out of it just as quickly.   A young Shakespeare was in the cast of one of Johnson’s plays,  Every Man in His Humour.  Johnson was a man who had the good fortune of royal patronage and the ear of James I for his clear thinking and philosophical approach to academic rigor.  In 1616 he was given an annual pension by the King, making him possibly England’s first poet laureate.

By the 1620’s Johnson’s health and productivity was in decline and several poets that followed in his footsteps, Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, and Sir John Suckling called themselves the Sons of Ben. Johnson’s late plays were a critical and financial disaster, but he had at least the good humor to write an ode to himself poking fun at his expense.

The last line of the sonnet below is confusing with the word “ceston”.  I admit I was not sure of the meaning when I first read it and after several searches of online dictionaries I am not sure I am clear yet.   Ceston is not an English word today.   Seston are minute particles in water or soil, but I don’t think that’s what is meant.  In French Ceston means basket, that makes a little more sense.  But if you know the renaissance meaning of the word ceston please help solve the mystery.  What does ceston mean?


A Sonnet to the Noble Lady, the Lady Mary Wroth

by Ben Johnson

I that have been a lover, and could show it,
Though not in these, in rithmes not wholly dumb,
Since I exscribe your sonnets, am become
A better lover, and much better poet.
Nor is my Muse or I ashamed to owe it
To those true numerous graces, where of some
But charm the senses, others overcome
Both brains and hearts; and mine now best do know it:
For in your verse all Cupid’s armory,
His flames, his shafts, his quiver, and his bow,
His very eyes are yours to overthrow.
But then his mother’s sweets you so apply,
Her joys, her smiles, her loves, as readers take
For Venus’ ceston every line you make.

Time Will Not Be Ours Forever

sexy-santa
With Visions of Sugar Plums….

Who Ever Loved That Loved Not at First Sight?

by Christopher Marlowe

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?

 


Welcome to the third and final edition of Survival Tips for Getting Plowed.   A couple of warnings. I am not a licensed sex therapist, nor do I have any experience giving romantic advice, so you’re going to have to accept all responsibility for your own misadventures.  However, poetry and romance have been around since Ovid wrote the first limerick; “There once was a man named McSweeney”  So as one poet to another, here’s a couple of ideas for increasing your odds of romance this holiday season.

  1. Make An Effort.   Let’s face it gentleman, this is not the 60’s anymore, free love went the way of the herpes simplex II epidemic in the 1970’s. If you are going to actually find yourself in a romantic position with your spouse, girl friend or the woman at the gym you have had your eye on since Halloween, you are going to have to do a little maintenance.  Do a five point assessment at Thanksgiving. Do you need a hair cut? Do you need to trim your eyebrows and nose hairs.  Nothing turns off a woman faster than a mustache that starts up your nose.  Rethink that facial hair unless you are under 30 and she finds it cute. How about your teeth? When was the last time you went to the dentist.  Make an appointment.  What’s the state of your wardrobe? Do you have a date night worthy flattering outfit and yes, that includes a new pair of shoes? What is the state of your current cologne?   If the only cologne you own was given to you by your aunt when you were 14, its time to upgrade.  Go pick out something that smells like hubba-hubba. Set aside a Saturday in December and go check off the things on your list.  A good workman doesn’t blame his tools.
  2. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment, plan a date night. Don’t make the mistake thinking that your beautiful partner is going to be in a romantic mood on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day just because Santa is widely rumored to be coming down her chimney. The reality is Christmas is exhausting. Most people have triple duty those days, gifts to buy and wrap, food to prepare, getting the house ready, getting out the door on time to church or the relatives. For couples with children and grand children, from Dec. 23 to Dec 26 is a usually a no sex zone on the calendar.  Its just too busy and over booked to fit in even one more thing.  So, do what all good time managers suggest if you want to be sure to get something done, communicate and get it on the calendar.  I suggest that December 22 be set aside as an official national day of holiday romance. It will put you both into a good mood for the remainder of the holidays and it is far enough away from Christmas that you can take a well needed break from preparations and go have a drink or two, dress up in those duds you bought earlier in the month, put on that cologne and be confident in you’re freshly quaffed stud-li-ness. Make a dinner reservation or even better, take her to the theater, to a show she wants to see. How will your partner not be impressed? Then as the show is about to start, lean over and whisper in her ear, “You look fantastic tonight. I hope you know how much I love you.”  You might might just get laid in the unisex bathroom that locks during intermission.
  3. Take a shot and ask for it.   The great one Wayne Gretsky said, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.  This is true on the ice rink and in bed. All master sales people will tell you the most important thing in closing a deal and making a sale is asking for the business.  So if you can’t remember the last time you had sex and you are still involved with the person you last had it with, plan for it when the two of you have the house to yourself and say, “Would you make love to me?  I’ve missed your touch.”  And then kiss and hug her right there in the kitchen. A clean kitchen where you have just done the dishes and mopped the floor. The truth is, nothing is sexier than a man who has gotten up early on a Saturday, scrubbed the toilets, taken out the garbage, done a load of laundry, thoughtfully cleaned around the house. See, I fooled you into reading this option, because if I had titled it scrub the toilets you would have skipped over it to number four, but now you’ve gone and read through it all and realized this is a guilt trip to get you to man up and put on an apron and get to work.
  4. Put a poem in a card.  Poetry is a proven aphrodisiac.  Since you have stumbled across this blog, I have to assume you have an interest in poetry. If you write poetry, write a love poem to your lover.  If you don’t write poetry, google best love poems in the English language and let one of the master’s help you out. Try e. e. cummings, Keats, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and you have a wealth of material over the last 400 years to pick from.  Find something short and meaningful, preferably 16 lines or less and hand write it in a card that you have picked out and slip it onto her pillow or give it to her at dinner.  Pick a time that is not crazy busy.  Take a shower before you give it to her and put on your new cologne.
  5. I Love You.   When was the last time you said those three words to your partner? These three words and bottle of wine are the best panty-removers on the planet.  It needs to be heartfelt.  I am not advocating you try and fake your way through it. Say it because you mean it.  And show her that you mean it.  Being a lover is not about sex, its about showing your love in everything you do.

Good luck, I hope these tips help you get plowed.  Happy Holidays.


Come Celia

by Ben Johnson

Come Come, my Celia, let us prove
While we may, the sports of love;
Time will not be ours forever;
He at length our good will sever.
Spend not then his gifts in vain.
Suns that set may rise again;
But if once we lose this light,
‘Tis with us perpetual night.
Why should we defer our joys?
Fame and rumor are but toys
Cannot we delude the eyes
Of a few poor household spies,
Or his easier ears beguile,
So removed by our wile?
‘Tis no sin love’s fruit to steal
But the sweet theft to reveal.
To be taken, to be seen,
These have crimes accounted been.