Tuesday Poem – On My First Son – Ben Jonson – chosen for ‘Poems that make Grown Men Cry’

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy;
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh! could I lose all father, now! for why,
Will man 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 Jonson his best piece of poetry;
For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.
wake of his dispute with Jones.

Poems that make Grown Men Cry

“This poem was chosen for inclusion in the above anthology Poems that make Grown Men Cry an anthology of some of the most emotive lines in literature chosen by 100 famous and admired men, ranging from Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave, to Johnathon Franzen. Published in April 2014 and edited by the journalist and biographer Anthony Holden and his film-producer son, Ben, the book is winning praise for introducing male readers to unfamiliar works – and emotions…Speaking  on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek programme, Professor John Carey revealed he found his own choice, Ben Jonson’s farewell poem to his dead child, On My First Sonne, “impossible to read without breaking down at the early moment where the poet appears to turn to speak to his son with the words, “My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.”

Read more about the anthology in this article from The Guardian.

And if you are interested in how and why the anthology came about, read this excellent extract from the book’s preface.

And/or visit the publishers website at Simon and Schuster UK.

Born in 1572, Jonson began his working life as a bricklayer and then a soldier, and it is perhaps experiences in these fields –that shaped his no-nonsense, confrontational personality. Read about Ben Jonson here.

Ben Jonson 1572 - 1637
Ben Jonson
1572 – 1637




Here lies, to each her parents’ ruth,
Mary, the daughter of their youth;
Yet, all heaven’s gifts, being heaven’s due,
It makes the father less to rue.
At six months’ end, she parted hence,
With safety of her innocence;
Whose soul heaven’s queen, whose name she bears,
In comfort of her mother’s tears,
Hath placed amongst her virgin-train;
Where, while that severed doth remain,
This grave partakes the fleshly birth;
Which cover lightly, gentle earth!


When I looked for the poem On My First Son, I found the above poem also by Ben Jonson.

Janis Freegard is the editor of Tuesday Poem’s hub this week with Untitled by Ema Saikō, a beautifully insightful poem about enjoying the moment…something which should be easy to do. Aah yes the should word…but how easy it is to lose focus.