Ode to Himself upon the Censure of his "New Inn"

Original Text: 
Ben Jonson, The New Inne (London: T. Harper for T. Alchorne, 1631). STC 14780
2    And the more loathsome age;
3Where pride and impudence, in faction knit,
4      Usurp the chair of wit!
5Indicting and arraigning every day
6      Something they call a play.
7    Let their fastidious, vain
8    Commission of the brain
9Run on and rage, sweat, censure, and condemn;
10They were not made for thee, less thou for them.
11      Say that thou pour'st them wheat,
12    And they will acorns eat;
13'Twere simple fury still thyself to waste
14      On such as have no taste!
15To offer them a surfeit of pure bread
16      Whose appetites are dead!
17    No, give them grains their fill,
19If they love lees, and leave the lusty wine,
20Envy them not, their palate's with the swine.
21      No doubt some mouldy tale,
24      Scraps out of every dish
25Thrown forth, and rak'd into the common tub,
26      May keep up the Play-club:
27    There, sweepings do as well
28    As the best-order'd meal;
29For who the relish of these guests will fit,
30Needs set them but the alms-basket of wit.
31      And much good do't you then:
32    Brave plush-and-velvet-men
34      Dare quit, upon your oaths,
35The stagers, and the stage-wrights too (your peers)
36      Of larding your large ears
38    Wrought upon twenty blocks;
39Which if they are torn, and turn'd, and patch'd enough,
41      Leave things so prostitute,
43Or thine own Horace, or Anacreon's lyre;
44      Warm thee by Pindar's fire:
45And though thy nerves be shrunk, and blood be cold,
46      Ere years have made thee old,
48    Throughout, to their defeat,
49As curious fools, and envious of thy strain,
50May blushing swear, no palsy's in thy brain.
51      But when they hear thee sing
53His zeal to God, and his just awe o'er men:
54      They may, blood-shaken then,
55Feel such a flesh-quake to possess their powers,
56      As they shall cry: "Like ours
57    In sound of peace or wars,
58    No harp e'er hit the stars,
59In tuning forth the acts of his sweet reign,


1] Jonson's comedy, The New Inn (acted 1629, published 1631) was a complete failure on the stage. At the conclusion of the play he printed this ode, with the following explanatory note- "The just indignation the author took at the vulgar censure of this play by some malicious spectators begat this following Ode to Himself; see also Carew's To Ben Jonson "upon occasion of his ode of defiance". Back to Line
18] draff. Refuse. Back to Line
22] Pericles. A loosely constructed play, based on the old romantic tale of Apollonius of Tyre. It was published as by Shakespeare in 1608, but was not included in his collected works until 1664. Only the last three acts are now attributed to him. Back to Line
23] shrieve's. Sheriff's. The allusion is to the food served to imprisoned debtors. Back to Line
33] orts. Scraps. 34, 36.
quit ... of. Excuse from. Back to Line
37] comic socks. Comedies. The soccus was the low shoe worn by the Latin comedian. Back to Line
40] gilt. Gold and guilt; a pun. Back to Line
42] Alcaic. Characteristic of Alcæus, a Greek lyric poet (c. 600 B.C.). Back to Line
47] that ... as. Such ... that. Back to Line
52] thy king. Charles I, who was generous to the poet. Back to Line
60] Charles his chariot. Charles's chariot. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP 1.263.