Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Oberon’s Feast
By Robert Herrick (1591–1674)
 
SHAPCOT! to thee the Fairy State
I with discretion dedicate:
Because thou prizest things that are
Curious and unfamiliar,
Take first the feast; these dishes gone,        5
We ’ll see the Fairy-court anon.
 
A little mushroom-table spread,
After short prayers, they set on bread,
A moon-parch’d grain of purest wheat,
With some small glitt’ring grit, to eat        10
His choice bits with; then in a trice
They make a feast less great than nice.
But all this while his eye is served,
We must not think his ear was sterved;
But that there was in place to stir        15
His spleen, the chirring grasshopper,
The merry cricket, puling fly,
The piping gnat for minstrelsy.
And now, we must imagine first,
The elves present, to quench his thirst,        20
A pure seed-pearl of infant dew,
Brought and besweeten’d in a blue
And pregnant violet; which done,
His kitling eyes begin to run
Quite through the table, where he spies        25
The horns of papery butterflies,
Of which he eats; and tastes a little
Of that we call the cuckoo’s spittle;
A little fuz-ball pudding stands
By, yet not blessèd by his hands,        30
That was too coarse; but then forthwith
He ventures boldly on the pith
Of sugar’d rush, and eats the sagge
And well-bestrutted bees’ sweet bag;
Gladding his palate with some store        35
Of emmet’s eggs; what would he more?
But beards of mice, a newt’s stew’d thigh,
A bloated earwig, and a fly;
With the red-capt worm, that ’s shut
Within the concave of a nut,        40
Brown as his tooth. A little moth,
Late fatten’d in a piece of cloth;
With wither’d cherries, mandrakes’ ears,
Moles’ eyes: to these the slain stag’s tears;
The unctuous dew-laps of a snail,        45
The broke-heart of a nightingale
O’ercome in music; with a wine
Ne’er ravish’d from the flattering vine,
But gently prest from the soft side
Of the most sweet and dainty bride,        50
Brought in a dainty daisy, which
He fully quaffs up, to bewitch
His blood to height; this done, commended
Grace by his priest; The feast is ended.
 
 
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