Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Simplex Munditiis
By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
 
STILL 1 to be neat, still to be drest,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be powdered, still perfumed;
Lady, it is to be presumed,
Though art’s hid causes are not found,        5
All is not sweet, all is not sound.
 
Give me a look, give me a face
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:
Such sweet neglect more taketh me        10
Than all th’ adulteries of art;
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
 
Note 1. From Epicæne, or the Silent Woman, 1609, act i. sc. 1.
  Clerimont: “A pox of her autumnal face, her pie’d beauty: there’s no man can be admitted till she be ready, now-a-days, till she has painted, and perfum’d, and washt, and scour’d, but the boy here; and him she wipes her oil’d lips upon, like a sponge, I have made a song I pr’ythee hear it, o’ the subject. ‘Still to be neat,’” etc.
  This elegant little madrigal is a happy imitation from the following Latin poem:
  Semper munditias, semper, Basilissa, decores,
  Semper compositas arte recente comas,
Et comptos semper cultus, unguentaque semper,
  Omnia sollicita compta videre manu,
Non amo. Neglectim mihi se quæ comit amica
  Se det; et ornatus simplicitate valet.
Vincula ne cures capitis discussa soluti,
  Nec ceram in faciem: mel habet illa suum.
Fingere se semper, non est confidere amori;
  Quid quod sæpe decor, cum prohibetur, adest?
The learned may find these verses amongst those which are printed at the end of the variorum edition of Petronius. Mr. Upton imagines there are some passages faulty in this poem. I have given it as I find it in the notes of Colomesius on some passages of Quintilian, printed in his Opuscula; he tells us, Hi versus sic legendi sunt, licet aliò abeat ingeniossimus Nicolaus Heinsius ad Ovidium. Tom. 1., p. 394. (Whalley, The Dramatic Works of Ben Jonson, 1811, vol. i., p. 285.) [back]
 
 
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