Study Guide

Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount Sadness

By Ben Jonson

Sadness

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

Okay, Echo, we get it. We're moving slowly. Why all the repetition? Maybe it's because Echo is so devastated that she can really only repeat herself (like an echo).

 "Woe weeps out her division when she sings" (4)

Who is Woe and what's she doing in our poem? Well, maybe Echo is trying to distance herself from her grief, to create a "division," where Woe is the one who is sad, not her. And isn't that the way we all cope with sadness? By trying to push it away?

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

Echo's grief is so consuming that even flowers and plants are affected by it. Yikes. Of course we might also read this as Echo's being so grief-stricken that all she can see in the world around her are images of woe. She's looking at the world through blue-colored glasses.

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

Here come the waterworks. The repetition of "drop" reminds us of the repetition in the first two lines, and the "melting snow" is similar to Echo's "salt tears." Echo is echoing herself yet again, which reminds us of all the ways in which sadness can make it impossible to think of more than a few things.