Study Guide

Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount Death

By Ben Jonson

Death

Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears
Yet slower yet, oh faintly gentle springs (1-2)

The emphasis on slowness suggests a gradual slowing down of life, as if Echo is withering, just like her daffodil boyfriend. It's as if Echo wants the springs to gradually stop singing, moving, or whatever it is that they are doing. Does this remind you of anything? Aging, too, is a gradual slowing down, and it's something most of us have to go through, unless we have the distinct misfortune of dying young, like Narcissus.

Droop herbs and flowers;
Fall grief in showers (5-6)

Once you've read the whole poem, it's hard not to notice how the words "droop" and "fall" foreshadow the word "drop" in line 10. In a way, these words also suggest death. When we see flowers drooping, for example, it usually means they are almost dead, or in the process of dying. Echo sees death all around her, either because it <em>is</em> all around her, or because she's so sad it <em>seems</em> like it is.

Oh, I could still (8)

What a line break. Ending on the word "still" makes us think of the stillness of death, especially considering the context of the poem. It's as if the sentence just dies right there at the end of the line. We pause, for a minute, and experience a sense of stillness as we ponder what might come next.

Oh, I could still,
Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
Drop, drop, drop, drop (8-10)

The melting of snow suggests an end to winter (and all the frozen death that comes with it) and hence beginning of spring. Perhaps in death there is new life, a new "spring," just as Narcissus' death resulted in a blooming daffodil.