Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
A Ballad upon a Wedding
By Sir John Suckling (1609–1642)
 
I TELL 1 thee, Dick, where I have been,
Where I the rarest things have seen;
    O, things without compare!
Such sights again cannot be found
In any place on English ground,        5
    Be it at wake or fair.
 
At Charing-Cross, hard by the way,
Where we (thou know’st) do sell our hay,
    There is a house with stairs;
And there did I see coming down        10
Such folk as are not in our town,
    Forty at least, in pairs.
 
Amongst the rest, one pest’lent fine
(His beard no bigger though than thine)
    Walked on before the rest:        15
Our landlord looks like nothing to him:
The King (God bless him) ’twould undo him,
    Should he go still so drest.
 
At Course-a-Park, without all doubt,
He should have first been taken out        20
    By all the maids i’th’ town:
Though lusty Roger there had been,
Or little George upon the Green,
    Or Vincent of the Crown.
 
But wot you what? the youth was going        25
To make an end of all his wooing;
    The parson for him stay’d:
Yet by his leave (for all his haste)
He did not so much wish all past
    (Perchance), as did the maid.        30
 
The maid (and thereby hangs a tale),
For such a maid no Whitsun-ale
    Could ever yet produce:
No grape, that ’s kindly ripe, could be
So round, so plump, so soft as she,        35
    Nor half so full of juice.
 
Her finger was so small, the ring,
Would not stay on, which they did bring,
    It was too wide a peck:
And to say truth (for out it must)        40
It looked like the great collar (just)
    About our young colt’s neck.
 
Her feet beneath her petticoat,
Like little mice, stole in and out,
    As if they fear’d the light:        45
But O she dances such a way!
No sun upon an Easter-day
    Is half so fine a sight.
 
Her cheeks so rare a white was on,
No daisy makes comparison,        50
    (Who sees them is undone),
For streaks of red were mingled there,
Such as are on a Catherine pear
    The side that ’s next the sun.
 
Her lips were red, and one was thin,        55
Compar’d to that was next her chin
    (Some bee had stung it newly);
But, Dick, her eyes so guard her face;
I durst no more upon them gaze
    Than on the sun in July.        60
 
Her mouth so small, when she does speak,
Thou ’dst swear her teeth her words did break,
    That they might passage get;
But she so handled still the matter,
They came as good as ours, or better,        65
    And are not spent a whit.
 
Just in the nick the cook knocked thrice,
And all the waiters in a trice
    His summons did obey;
Each serving-man, with dish in hand,        70
Marched boldly up, like our trained band,
    Presented, and away.
 
When all the meat was on the table,
What man of knife or teeth was able
    To stay to be intreated?        75
And this the very reason was,
Before the parson could say grace,
    The company was seated.
 
The business of the kitchen ’s great,
For it is fit that men should eat;        80
    Nor was it there denied:
Passion o’ me, how I run on!
There ’s that that would be thought upon
    (I trow) besides the bride.
 
Now hats fly off, and youths carouse;        85
Healths first go round, and then the house,
    The bride’s came thick and thick:
And when ’twas nam’d another’s health,
Perhaps he made it hers by stealth;
    And who could help it, Dick?        90
 
On the sudden up they rise and dance;
Then sit again and sigh, and glance:
    Then dance again and kiss:
Thus several ways the time did pass,
Whilst ev’ry woman wished her place,        95
    And every man wished his.
 
Note 1. The wedding was that of Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill (afterwards Earl of Orrery), with Lady Margaret Howard. Mr. Hazlitt thinks that the Ballad is addressed to Lovelace. [back]
 
 
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