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On My First Son Summary & Analysis
by Ben Jonson

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“On My First Son” is an elegy by the English poet and playwright Ben Jonson. He composed the poem shortly after his son died of the plague in 1603; his son was just seven years old at the time. Unlike many of Jonson’s other poems—which tend to be biting, sarcastic, and satirical—“On My First Son” is a moving testament to Jonson’s anguish and grief in the wake of his son’s death. In his despair, Jonson wrestles with some of the toughest questions a poet—and a person—can face. He asks himself whether he can ever recover from such a sharp blow—and he wonders whether anything can possibly compensate for his loss.

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