Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


To Penshurst

By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)

THOU art not, Penshurst, built to envious show

Of touch or marble; nor canst boast a row

Of polish’d pillars or a roofe of gold:

Thou hast no lantherne, whereof tales are told;

Or stayre, or courts; but stand’st an ancient pile,

And, these grudg’d at, art reverenc’d the while,

Thou joy’st in better marks, of soile, of ayre,

Of wood, of water: therein thou art faire.

Thou hast thy walkes for health, as well as sport:

Thy Mount, to which the Dryads do resort,

Where Pan and Bacchus their high feasts have made,

Beneath the broad beach and the chestnut shade:

The taller tree which of a nut was set,

At his great birth, where all the Muses met.

There, in the writhed barke, are cut the names

Of many a Sylvane, taken with his flames;

And thence the ruddy Satyres oft provoke

The lighter Faunes, to reach thy ladie’s oke.

Thy copp’s too, nam’d of Gamage, thou hast there,

That never failes to serve thee season’d deere,

When thou wouldst feast, or exercise thy friends.

The lower land, that to the river bends,

Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine and calves, do feed:

The middle grounds thy mares, and horses breed.

Each banck doth yeeld thee coneyes; and the topps

Fertile of wood, Ashore and Sydney’s copps,

To crown thy open table, doth provide

The purple phesant, with the speckled side:

The painted partrich lyes in every field,

And for thy messe is willing to be kill’d.

And if the high-swolne Medway faile thy dish,

Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,

Fat aged carps, that run into thy net,

And pikes, now weary their own kinde to eat,

As loth the second draught or cast to stay,

Officiously at first themselves betray.

Bright eeles, that emulate them, and leape on land,

Before the fisher, or into his hand.

Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,

Fresh as the ayre, and new as are the houres.

The early cherry, with the later plum,

Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come:

The blushing apricot and woolly peach

Hang on thy wals, that every child may reach.

And though thy wals be of the countrey stone,

They ’re rear’d with no man’s ruine, no man’s grone:

There ’s none that dwell about them wish them downe;

But all come in, the farmer and the clowne:

And no one empty-handed, to salute

Thy lord and lady, though they have no sute.

Some bring a capon, some a rurall cake,

Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make

The better cheeses bring ’hem; or else send

By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend

This way to husbands; and whose baskets beare

An emblem of themselves, in plum or peare.

But what can this (more than expresse their love)

Adde to thy free provisions, farre above

The need of such? whose liberall boord doth flow,

With all that hospitality doth know!

Where comes no guest but is allow’d to eat,

Without his feare, and of thy lord’s owne meat:

Where the same beere and bread, and selfe-same wine,

That is his lordship’s, shall be also mine.

And I not faine to sit (as some this day,

At great men’s tables) and yet dine away.

Here no man tels my cups; nor, standing by,

A waiter doth my gluttony envy:

But gives me what I call for, and lets me eate;

He knowes, below, he shall finde plentie of meate;

Thy tables hoord not up for the next day,

Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray

For fire, or lights, or livorie: all is there;

As if thou then wert mine, or I raign’d here:

There ’s nothing I can wish, for which I stay.

That found king James, when hunting late this way,

With his brave sonne, the prince, they saw thy fires

Shine bright on every harth, as the desires

Of thy Penates had beene set on flame,

To entertayne them; or the countrey came,

With all their zeale to warme their welcome here.

What (great, I will not say, but) sodaine cheare

Didst thou then make ’hem! and what praise was heap’d

On thy good lady then! who therein reap’d

The just reward of her high huswifery;

To have her linnen, plate, and all things nigh

When she was farre: and not a roome, but drest,

As if it had expected such a guest!

These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all.

Thy lady ’s noble, fruitfull, chaste withall.

His children thy great lord may call his owne:

A fortune in this age but rarely knowne,

They are, and have beene taught religion: thence

Their gentler spirits have suck’d innocence.

Each morne, and even, they are taught to pray

With the whole houshold, and may every day

Reade in their vertuous parents’ noble parts,

The mysteries of manners, armes, and arts.

Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee

With other edifices, when they see

Those proud, ambitious heaps, and nothing else,

May say, their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.