Ben Jonson

(11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637 / London / England)

On Don Surly - Poem by Ben Jonson

Don Surly, to aspire the glorious name
 Of a great man, and to be thought the same,
Makes serious use of all great trade he know.
 He speaks to men with a Rhinocerotes' nose,
Which he thinks great; and so reads verses too,
 And that is done as he saw great men do.
He has timpanies of business in his face,
 And can forget men's names with a great grace.
He will both argue and discourse in oaths,
 Both which are great; and laugh at ill-made clothes-
That's greater yet-to cry his own up neat.
 He doth, at meals, alone his pheasant eat,
Which is main greatness; and at his still board
 He drinks to no man; that's, too, like a lord.
He keeps another's wife, which is a spice
 Of solemn greatness. And he dares, at dice,
Blaspheme God greatly, or some poor hind beat
 That breathes in his dog's way; and this is great.
Nay more, for greatness' sake, he will be one
 May hear my epigrams, but like of none,
Surly, use other arts; these only can
 Style thee a most great fool, but no great man.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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