Analysis of Jonson's On My First Son Essay

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Analysis of Jonson's On My First Son

The poem entitled On My First Son is a pouring out of a father's soul-a soul that pours out every last drop of pain, anguish, and love for his deceased son neatly into a beautiful poem. Ben Jonson illustrates his love and loss with concreteness and passion. Just as an artist creates a painting on paper with a pallet of colors and different types of brushes, Jonson uses thoughtful phrasing and strong diction to create a vivid word painting of his son.

The phrasing of this poem can be analyzed on many levels. Holistically, the poem moves the father through three types of emotions. More specifically, the first lines of the poem depict the father s deep sadness toward the death
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For why will man lament the state he should envy? (Line 6) Jumping ahead, the word father , when taken in context, is synonymous for the word faith here. Another interesting technique that jumped out here is the breaking of meter and rhyme in this section. I believe this is for added emphasis of his realization phase where he knows that he misses his son, but he knows that his son is obviously in a better place-since the poem was written during an outbreak of the plague.

The final emotional stage of the father, as he deals with the death of his son, is not surprising considering the previous feelings that he expressed. He accepts the death and gives his final thoughts in two forms as a blessing and a vow. He blesses his son by saying, Rest in soft peace, and asked, say, here doth lie Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry (Lines 10,11). By poetry, I believe he means that his son was his favorite child. Finally, he says that he will never love anything as much as he loved his son when he says, For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such as what he loves may never like too much (Lines 12,13).

In addition to meaningful phrasing patterns, Jonson uses some examples of clever and purposeful word choices. For example, he uses what appear to be biblical references to show even more of the pain he was experiencing after he lost his son-just as God wept when his son

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