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English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Ben Jonson

158. On Lucy, Countess of Bedford

THIS 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,

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;

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

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!