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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 23

On the Portrait of Shakespeare

By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)

  • Born at Stratford-on-Avon, April 23, 1564. Died there April 23, 1616.

  • THE FIGURE that thou here seest put,

    It was for gentle SHAKESPEARE cut,

    Wherein the graver had a strife

    With nature, to out-do the life:

    O could he have but drawn his wit

    As well in brass, as he has hit

    His face; the print would then surpass

    All that was ever writ in brass:

    But since he cannot, reader, look

    Not on his picture, but his book.