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Monday, July 11, 2011

On My First Son

(Untitled, photograph by Vivian Maier, 1926-2009,
American photographer, from a collection of tens of
thousands of photographs she took on the streets of
mid-century Chicago; her work was discovered when
a real estate agent found the negatives in 2007 at an
auction of boxes abandoned in storage lockers)

Ben Jonson wrote this elegy on the death of his eldest son, seven-year-old Benjamin.


Farewell, though child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy;
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ’scaped world’s and flesh’s rage,
And, if no other misery, yet age!
Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, Here doth lie
Ben Johnson his best piece of poetry,
For whose sake, henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.

~ Ben Jonson (1572-1537), playwright and poet of the English Renaissance

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