And Must I Sing?

A poem by Ben Jonson

And must I sing? what subject shall I chuse?
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 god-head, were sinne. Ile implore


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


Nor will I begge of thee, Lord of the vine,
To raise my spirits with thy conjuring wine,
In the greene circle of thy Ivie twine.


Pallas, nor thee I call on, mankind maid,
That, at thy birth, mad'st the poore Smith affraid,
Who, with his axe, thy fathers mid-wife plaid.


Goe, crampe dull Mars, light Venus, when he snorts,
Or, with thy Tribade trine, invent new sports.
Thou, nor thy loosenesse with my making sorts.


Let the old Boy, your sonne, ply his old taske,
Turne the stale prologue to some painted maske,
His absence in my verse, is all I aske.


Hermes, the cheater, shall not mix with us,
Though hee would steale his sisters Pegasus,
And riffle him: or pawne his Petasus.


Nor all the ladies of the Thespian lake,
(Though they were crusht into one forme) could make
A beautie of that merit, that should take


My Muse up by commission: No, I bring
My owne true fire. Now my thought takes wing,
And now an Epode to deepe eares I sing.

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