What about Ben Jonson?

Why should William Shakespeare get all the attention? Here is my interpretation of Ben Jonson’s famous poem.

cup-367456_640

Celia with my interpretation in italics.

Drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
shush. look at me
and I’ll make eye promises

Or leave a kisse but in the cup,
And Ile not looke for wine.
If you kiss the inside of a cup
I’ll scrap the booze

The thirst, that from the soule doth rise,
Doth aske a drinke divine:
actually, scraping your kiss out of the cup
would be great.

But might I of Jove’s Nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
even if I was offered the best drink in the world
I’d prefer to imbibe the soggy kiss-in-a-cup

I sent thee, late, a rosie wreath,
Not so much honoring thee,
that lovely rose
wasn’t sent because I like you

As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
but to give it a chance to
maybe live forever

But thou thereon did’st onely breath,
And sent’st it back to mee:
but you just breathed on it
and sent it back

Since when it growes, and smells, I sweare,
Not of it selfe, but thee.
and now it’s growing, and smells,
just like you

The original:

Drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kisse but in the cup,
And Ile not looke for wine.

The thirst, that from the soule doth rise,
Doth aske a drinke divine:
But might I of Jove’s Nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee, late, a rosie wreath,
Not so much honoring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.

But thou thereon did’st onely breath,
And sent’st it back to mee:
Since when it growes, and smells, I sweare,
Not of it selfe, but thee.

My interpretation:

shush… look at me,
and I’ll make eye promises.
if you kiss the inside of a cup
I’ll scrap the booze.

actually, scraping your kiss out of the cup
would be great.
even if I was offered the best drink in the world,
I’d prefer to imbibe the soggy kiss-in-a-cup.

that lovely rose
wasn’t sent because I like you,
but to give it a chance to
maybe live forever.

but you just breathed on it
and sent it back,
and now it’s growing, and smells,
just like you.

© Jane Paterson Basil

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4 thoughts on “What about Ben Jonson?

  1. Nicely done. Of course, as you well know, when Jonson and Marvell and the gang said all these lovely things about drinking with eyes, etc. it was all a ruse to get these women into bed. My favorite of the era is Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” Brilliant, funny, and provocative!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! It would be interesting to try another experiment. Interpret one — a pretty well known one to begin with — and just put your translation and see if anyone can guess what poem it is. Just to change things up a bit. Grin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a cunning plan.
      I seem to have temporarily lost sight of what I’m meant to be doing, but we all need a holiday now and again.
      I’ll find a poem that has the right combination of familiarity and spoofability (yes, spoofability – new words are created every day) and get on it.

      Like

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