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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Prologue from ‘Every Man in His Humour’

By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)

THOUGH need make many poets, and some such

As art and nature have not bettered much;

Yet ours, for want, hath not so loved the stage

As he dare serve the ill customs of the age,

Or purchase your delight at such a rate

As, for it, he himself must justly hate.

To make a child, now swaddled, to proceed

Man, and then shoot up in one beard and weed

Past threescore years; or with three rusty swords,

And help of some few foot-and-half-foot words,

Fight over York and Lancaster’s long jars,

And in the tyring-house bring wounds to scars.

He rather prays, you will be pleased to see

One such to-day, as other plays should be:

Where neither chorus wafts you o’er the seas;

Nor creaking throne comes down, the boys to please;

Nor nimble squib is seen, to make afeard

The gentlewomen; nor rolled bullet heard

To say, it thunders; nor tempestuous drum

Rumbles, to tell you when the storm doth come:

But deeds and language such as men do use;

And persons such as comedy would choose,

When she would show an image of the times,

And sport with human follies, not with crimes.