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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        5
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,        10
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;        15
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:        20
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.
 
 
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