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Analysis of Jonson's On My First Son

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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 of his son.  The line  Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy  creates a mental picture in my mind (Line 1). I see the father standing over the coffin in his blackest of outfits with sunglasses shading his eyes from the sun because even the sun is too bright for his day of mourning.  The most beautiful scarlet rose from his garden is gripped tightly in his right hand as tears cascade down his face and strike the earth with a splash that echoes like a scream in a cave, piercing the ears of those gathered there to mourn the death of his son.


    The second four lines also describe the father s emotions as they move from sadness to anger, and from anger he moves quickly into a realization that he had no control over the situation.  He is angry at the world, himself, and the situation that he is now in.  The line,  Exacted by thy fate, on the just day  seems to be his only form of solace in the midst of anger (Line 4).  He speaks of God and His plan and how it supercedes the plans o...

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...ificed for all the sins of mankind. Feeling ashamed and sad, he questions his own faith by saying that his son was too young to have    scaped world s and flesh s rage  (Lines8, 9).  Finally, he uses a tender word like  peace  to signal that he has accepted his son s death, forgiven himself and God, and realizes that everything will be all right.


    This poem touched my heart not only as a person that could see the mastery in his phrasing and his word choices, but I also have many people that I love, and if and when they die, I will probably feel the same way.  It is amazing how Jonson can tie all his feelings into such a short poem.  By doing so, I believe he was physically showing us that his son's death was an unlucky event.  The poem has thirteen lines, like the number of words in this sentence.  Was it lucky thirteen?  I think not-not for the father.

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