Ben Jonson

11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637 / London / England


And must I sing? What subject shall I choose!
Or whose great name in poets' heaven use,
For the more countenance to my active muse?

Hercules? alas, his bones are yet sore
With his old earthly labours t' exact more
Of his dull godhead were sin. I'll implore

Phoebus. No, tend thy cart still. Envious day
Shall not give out that I have made thee stay,
And foundered thy hot team, to tune my lay.

Nor will I beg of thee, lord of the vine,
To raise my spirits with thy conjuring wine,
In the green circle of thy ivy twine.

Pallas, nor thee I call on, mankind maid,
That at thy birth mad'st the poor smith afraid.
Who with his axe thy father's midwife played.

Go, cramp dull Mars, light Venus, when he snorts,
Or with thy tribade trine invent new sports;
Thou, nor thy looseness with my making sorts.

Let the old boy, your son, ply his old task,
Turn the stale prologue to some painted mask;
His absence in my verse is all I ask.

Hermes, the cheater, shall not mix with us,
Though he would steal his sisters' Pegasus,
And rifle him; or pawn his petasus.

Nor all the ladies of the Thespian lake,
Though they were crushed into one form, could make
A beauty of that merit, that should take

My muse up by commission; no, I bring
My own true fire: now my thought takes wing,
And now an epode to deep ears I sing.
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