Comparative Ideas within "To Penshurst".
Literary comparisons and descriptions of ideas, people, places,objects, and circumstances in a beautifully written fashion is not an unordinary occurrence, especially among 17th Century poets. Ben Johnson's "To Penshurst" provides more than ample evidence of this very thought. In his poem to the estate of Robert Sidney, the younger brother of Sir Philip Sidney, Johnson clearly praises the Sidneys by expressing a certain adoration concerning many aspects of the estate and its inhabitants. Johnson notes, and admires, the generosity and kindness provided by the hosts to their guests and servants. He also displays a comparative look at the natural and cultural atmospheres of Penshurst.
Johnson begins the poem by stating "Thou joy'st in better marks, of soil, of air,/Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair"(7-8). He quickly acknowledges that Penshurst is a place where the natural resources are richer than most and he further establishes a separation between rural and town life with "therein thou art fair." Johnson creates an image of a beautiful place within the mind of the reader using eloquently descriptive words and phrases such as "Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,/Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours"(39-40) and "The early cherry, with the later plum,/Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come;/The blushing apricot and woolly peach/Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach"(41-44). The tone of the poem, when describing the sights of the landscape and natural features, is quite serene, and Johnson displays a sense of beauty that would almost have to be seen to believe.
Many animals, both domesticated and wild, are mentioned in the poem, and Ben Johnson, at times, reveals a skillful display of exaggeration when talking of them. "The painted partridge lies in every field,/And for thy mess is willing to be killed"(29-30) informs the reader that the bird has made a mental decision to die for the sake of the guests' meal when, in actuality, anyone knows that a bird can not make an educated choice of that sort.