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Poem by Ben Jonson
Inviting a Friend to Supper
TO-NIGHT, grave sir, both my poore house, and I Doe equally desire your companie : Not that we thinke us worthy such a guest, But that your worth will dignifie our feast, With those that come ; whose grace may make that seeme Something, which, else, could hope for no esteeme. It is the faire acceptance, Sir, creates The entertaynment perfect : not the cates. Yet shall you have, to rectifie your palate, An olive, capers, or some better sallad Ushring the mutton ; with a short-leg'd hen, If we can get her, full of eggs, and then, Limons, and wine for sauce : to these, a coney Is not to be despair'd of, for our money ; And, though fowle, now, be scarce, yet there are clerkes, The skie not falling, thinke we may have larkes. I'll tell you of more, and lye, so you will come : Of partrich, pheasant, wood-cock, of which some May yet be there ; and godwit, if we can : Knat, raile, and ruffe too. How so e'er, my man Shall reade a piece of VIRGIL, TACITUS, LIVIE, or of some better booke to us, Of which wee'll speake our minds, amidst our meate ; And I'll professe no verses to repeate : To this, if ought appeare, which I know not of, That will the pastrie, not my paper, show of. Digestive cheese, and fruit there sure will bee; But that, which most doth take my Muse, and mee, Is a pure cup of rich Canary-wine, Which is the Mermaids, now, but shall be mine : Of which had HORACE, or ANACREON tasted, Their lives, as doe their lines, till now had lasted. Tabacco, Nectar, or the Thespian spring, Are all but LUTHERS beere, to this I sing. Of this we will sup free, but moderately, And we will have no Pooly, or Parrot by ; Nor shall our cups make any guiltie men : But, at our parting, we will be, as when We innocently met. No simple word That shall be utter'd at our mirthfull board Shall make us sad next morning : or affright The libertie, that wee'll enjoy to-night.
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