The Complete Poems

The WORKES OF Benjamin Jonson

neque, me ut miretur turba, laboro:
Contentus paucis lectoribus.

Printed by W. Stansby, and are to be sould by Rich Nei[?]ghen.
Ano D. 1616.

[Woodcut: A highly detailed image of an ornate edifice - possibly a theatre stage - surrounds the title text. At the top is a robed figure holding a sword, flanked by two very small human figures. Below this, a satyr (labelled 'SATYR') and shepherd (label not legible) are playing instruments and holding crooks, either side of a framed illustration of a theatre (labelled 'THEATRUM'). Below the roof of the stage is written 'GUL' 'LOCUM TENEANT S' 'OEN.' On the stage, between pillars decorated with masks, are two figures, dressed as a king and a shepherd or country-dweller. At the bottom are two framed images: a horse-drawn wagon carrying a construction with people inside (labelled PLAUSTRUM), and an amphitheatre (labelled 'VISORIUM'). The artist's signature is in the bottom right corner. ]


[Page 808]

1.1. CXVIII.

GUT eats all day, and lechers all the night,
So all his meat he tasteth over, twise:
And, striving so to double his delight,
He makes himself a thorough-fare of vice.
Thus, in his belly, can he change a sin,
Lust it comes out, that gluttony went in.
[Page 770]

1.2. VI.

If all you boast of your great art be true;
Sure, willing poverty lives most in you.
[Page 799]

1.3. CI.

TOnight, grave sir, both my poore house, and I
Doe equally desire your companie:
Not that we thinke us worthy such a ghest,
But that your worth will dignifie our feast,
With those that come; whose grace may make that seeme
Something, which, else, could hope for no esteeme.
It is the faire acceptance, Sir, creates
The entertaynment perfect: not the cates.
Yet shall you have, to rectifie your palate,
An olive, capers, or some better sallade
Ushring the mutton; with a short-leg'd hen,
If we can get her, full of egs, and then,
Limons, and wine for sauce: to these, a coney
Is not to be despair'd of, for our money;
And, though fowle, now, be scarce, yet there are clarkes,
The skie not falling, thinke we may have larkes.
Ile tell you of more, and lye, so you will come:
Of partrich, pheasant, wood-cock, of which some
May yet be there; and godwit, if we can:
Knat, raile, and ruffe too. How so ere, my man
Shall reade a piece of VIRGIL, TACITUS,
LIVIE, or of some better booke to us,
Of which wee'll speake our minds, amidst our meate;
And Ile professe no verses to repeate:
To this, if ought appeare, which I know not of,
That will the pastrie, not my paper, show of.
Digestive cheese, and fruit there sure will bee;
But that, which most doth take my Muse, and mee,
[Page 800]
Is a pure cup of rich Canary-wine,
Which is the Mermaids, now, but shall be mine:
Of which had HORACE, or ANACREON tasted,
Their lives, as doe their lines, till now had lasted.
Tabacco, Nectar, or the Thespian spring,
Are all but LUTHERS beere, to this I sing.
Of this we will sup free, but moderately,
And we will have no Pooly', or Parrot by;
Nor shall our cups make any guiltie men:
But, at our parting, we will be, as when
We innocently met. No simple word,
That shall be utter'd at our mirthfull boord,
Shall make us sad next morning: or affright
The libertie, that wee'll enjoy to night.
[Ornate foliage design with nymph-like creatures. Framed in the centre is a boar's head sticking out of a castle.]


[Page 819]

2.1. II.

THou art not, PENSHURST, built to envious show,
Of touch, or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polish'd pillars, or a roofe of gold:
Thou hast no lantherne, whereof tales are told;
Or stayre, or courts; but stand'st an ancient pile,
And these grudg'd at, art reverenc'd the while.
Thou joy'st in better marks, of soyle, of ayre,
Of wood, of water; therein thou art faire.
Thou hast thy walkes for health, as well as sport:
Thy Mount, to which thy Dryads doe resort,
Where PAN, and BACCHUS their high feasts have made,
Beneath the broad beech, and the chest-nut shade;
That taller tree, which of a nut was set,
At his great birth, where all the Muses met.
[Page 820]
There, in the writhed barke, are cut the names
Of many a SYLVANE, taken with his flames.
And thence, the ruddy Satyres oft provoke
The lighter Faunes, to reach thy Ladies oke.
Thy copp's, too, nam'd of GAMAGE, thou hast there,
That never fails to serve thee season'd deere,
When thou would'st feast or exercise thy friends.
The lower land, that to the river bends,
Thy sheepe, thy bullocks, kine, and calves doe feed:
The middle grounds thy mares and horses breed.
Each banke doth yeeld thee coneyes; and the topps
Fertile of wood, ASHORE, and SYDNEY'S copp's,
To crowne thy open table, doth provide
The purpled pheasant, with the speckled side:
The painted partrich lyes in every field,
And, for thy messe, is willing to be kill'd.
And if the high swolne Medway fail thy dish,
Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,
Fat, aged carps, that runne into thy net.
And pikes, now weary their owne kinde to eat,
As loth, the second draught, or cast to stay,
Officiously, at first, themselves betray.
Bright eeles, that emulate them, and leape on land,
Before the fisher, or into his hand,
Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Fresh as the ayre, and new as are the houres.
The earely 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.
And though thy walls be of the countrey stone,
They'are rear'd with no mans ruine, no mans grone;
There's none, that dwell about them, wish them downe;
But all come in, the farmer, and the clowne;
And no one empty-handed, to salute
Thy lord, and lady, though they have no sute.
Some bring a capon, some a rurall cake,
Some nuts, some apples; some that thinke they make
The better cheeses, bring 'hem; or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands; and whose baskets beare
An embleme of themselves, in plum, or peare.
But what can this (more then expresse their love)
Adde to thy free provisions, farre above
[Page 821]
The neede of such? whose liberall boord doth flow,
With all, that hospitalitie doth know!
Where comes no guest, but is allow'd to eate,
Without his feare, and of thy lords owne meate:
Where the same beere, and bread, and selfe-same wine,
That is his Lordships, shall be also mine.
And I not faine to sit (as some, this day,
At great mens tables) and yet dine away.
Here no man tells my cups; nor, standing by,
A waiter, doth my gluttony envy:
But gives me what I call, and lets me eate,
He knowes, below, he shall finde plentie of meate,
Thy tables hoord not up for the next day,
Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray
For fire, or lights, or livorie: all is there;
As if thou, then, wert mine, or I raign'd here:
There's nothing I can wish, for which I stay.
That found King JAMES, when hunting late, this way,
With his brave sonne, the Prince, they saw thy fires
Shine bright on every harth as the desires
Of thy Penates had beene set on flame,
To entertayne them; or the countrey came,
With all their zeale, to warme their welcome here.
What (great, I will not say, but) sodayne cheare
Did'st thou, then, make 'hem! and what praise was heap'd
On thy good lady, then! who, therein, reap'd
The just reward of her high huswifery;
To have her linnen, plate, and all things nigh,
When shee was farre: and not a roome, but drest,
As if it had expected such a guest!
These, PENSHURST, are thy praise, and yet not all.
Thy lady's noble, fruitfull, chaste withall.
His children thy great lord may call his owne;
A fortune, in this age, but rarely knowne.
They are, and have beene taught religion: Thence
Their gentler spirits have suck'd innocence.
Each morne, and even, they are taught to pray,
With the whole houshold, and may, every day,
Reade in their vertuous parents noble parts,
The mysteries of manners, armes, and arts.
Now, PENSHURST, they that will proportion thee
With other edifices, when they see
Those proud, ambitious heaps, and nothing else,
May say, their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.
This is a selection from the original text


alchemist, feast, gluttony, gut, meat, poverty, supper

Source text

Modern edition

Title: The Complete Poems

Author: Ben Jonson

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 1975

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: Procured from Source: Jonson, Ben. The Works of Ben Jonson. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Co., 1853. Site copyright ©1996-2007 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved. Created by Anniina Jokinen Original compiled 1853

Digital edition

Original author(s): Ben Jonson

Original editor(s): George Parfitt

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) "On Gut" - Epigrammes, image no. 431
  • 2 ) "To Alchymists" - Epigrammes, image no. 411
  • 3 ) "To Penshurst" - The Forrest, image nos. 436-7
  • 4 ) "Inviting a Friend to Supper" - Epigrammes, image nos. 425-6


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > poetry

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.