It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night—
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.
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His [Jonson's] adoption of classical ideals was combined with a vigorous interest in contemporary life and a strong faith in native idiom. Within the urbane elegance of his verse forms he contrived a directness and energy of statement clearly related to colloquial speech, and this characteristic fusion of restraint and vitality gave to the seventeenth-century lyric its most distinctive quality. As well as the entire body of Jonson's non-dramatic verse, extensively annotated, this edition contains many of the songs from his plays and masques and his translation of 'Horace, of the Art of Poetry'. His 'Conversations with Drummond', which adds much to our sense of the man, appears as an Appendix, as does 'Discoveries'; together they shed valuable light on Jonson's poetic theory and practice.