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

November 19

To the King on His Birthday

By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)

  • Charles I, of England, born Nov. 19, 1600.

  • THIS is King Charles his day. Speak it, thou Tower,

    Unto the ships, and they from tier to tier,

    Discharge it ’bout the island in an hour,

    As loud as thunder, and as swift as fire.

    Let Ireland meet it out at sea, half-way,

    Repeating all Great Britain’s joy and more,

    Adding her own glad accents to this day,

    Like Echo playing from the other shore.

    What drums or trumpets, or great ordnance can,

    The poetry of steeples, with the bells,

    Three kingdoms’ mirth, in light and aery man,

    Made lighter with the wine. All noises else,

    At bonfires, rockets, fire-works, with the shouts

    That cry that gladness which their hearts would pray,

    Had they but grace of thinking, at these routs,

    On the often coming of this holy day:

    And ever close the burden of the song,

    Still to have such a Charles, and this Charles long.

    The wish is great; but where the prince is such,

    What prayers, people, can you think too much!