To the Memory of My Beloved
by Ben Jonson
Analysis: Sound Check
Rhythmically, this poem is pretty close to flawless. Just look at how PERFECT these feet are:
To whom all Scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time !
Normally rhyming couplets can come off as a little too upbeat, but Jonson's use of multi-syllable words throughout the poem negates the occasionally sing-songy effect that heroic couplets can have on the tone of a piece. These lines are a good example:
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please ;
The lines are iambic pentameter and they do rhyme, but they almost don't sound that way. It's impressive. The complexity of his diction keeps the poem grounded, as is appropriate for an elegy, but doesn't totally deplete the springiness of rhyming couplets.
In short, the way Jonson just powers through all those lines in relentless iambic pentameter is nothing short of mechanical, and we at Shmoop think that's a-okay. This poem, after all, is about one author's respect and admiration for another author's work, and it's hard to think of something that commands more respect than the sound of an army marching by you in perfect, synchronous step.