Poem

Analysis and paraphrasing essay: for each line

Paraphrase: Ben Jonson’s The Masque of Blackness (1605).
Niger: To do a kind, and careful father’s part,
In satisfying every pensive [thoughtful] heart
Of these my daughters, my most loved birth :
Who, though they were the first form’d dames of earth,
And in whose sparkling and refulgent [bright] eyes,
The glorious sun did still delight to rise ;
Though he, the best judge, and most formal cause
Of all dames beauties, in their firm hues [colors], draws
Signs of his fervent’st [most ardent] love ; and thereby shows
That in their black, the perfect’st beauty grows ;
Since the fixt color of their curled hair,
Which is the highest grace of dames most fair,
No cares, no age can change ; or there display
The fearful tincture [color] of abhorred [hated] gray ;
Since death herself (herself being pale and blue)
Can never alter their most faithful hue ;
All which are arguments, to prove how far
Their beauties conquer in great beauty’s war ;
And more, how near divinity they be,
That stand from passion, or decay so free.
Yet, since the fabulous voices of some few
Poor brain-sick men, styled poets here with you,
Have, with such envy of their graces, sung
The painted beauties other empires sprung;
Letting their loose and winged fictions fly
To infect all climates, yea, our purity;
As of one Phaëton,* [see below]  that fired the world
And that, before his heedless [careless] flames were hurl’d
About the globe, the Æthiops [Ethiopians] were as fair
As other dames; now black, with black despair:
And in respect of their complexions chang’d,
Are eachwhere [everywhere], since, for luckless creatures rang’d ;
Which, when my daughters heard, (as women are
Most jealous of their beauties) fear and care
Possess’d them whole ; yea, and believing them,
They wept such ceaseless tears into my stream,
That it hath thus far overflow’d his shore
To seek them patience: who have since e’ermore [evermore]
As the sun riseth,  charg’d his burning throne
With vollies [missles] of revilings [complaints]; ’cause he shone
On their scorch’d cheeks with such intemperate [immoderate] fires.
And other dames [women] made queens of all desires.
To frustrate which strange error, oft I sought,
Tho’ most in vain, against a settled thought
As women are, till they confirm’d at length
By miracle, what I, with so much strength
Of argument resisted ; else they feign’d.

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