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One of the greatest English playwrights of the seventeenth century, Ben Jonson was also a deeply influential lyric poet, whose poetry combined classical ideals with a vigorous interest in contemporary life and colloquial language. The Complete Poems contains all the volumes of poetry Jonson published in his lifetime - including Epigrams, The Forest and Underwoods - alongside a wide variety of his other poems collected after his death. Ranging from deeply moving pieces such as 'On My First Son' and the elegant love lyric 'Song to Celia' to brutally satirical poems such as 'On Poet-Ape' and the reflective 'An Ode to Himself', it offers a powerful celebration of both one man's life, and of an age.
Ben Jonson was born in 1572, the posthumous son of a minister and was educated at Westminster School thanks to an unknown patron. In 1597, after brief careers as a bricklayer and soldier, he began to work for Henslowe's company as a player and playwright. In addition to the comedies Jonson also produced two tragedies. In 1616 he was granted a royal pension and was made, in effect, Poet Laureate. He died on 6 August 1637.