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On Poet-Ape

by Ben Jonson, 1616

Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,
   Whose works are e'en the frippery of wit,
From brokage is become so bold a thief,
   As we, the robb'd, leave rage, and pity it.
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
   Buy the reversion of old plays;  now grown
To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
   He takes up all, makes each man's wit his own:
And, told of this, he slights it.  Tut, such crimes
   The sluggish gaping auditor devours;
He marks not whose 'twas first: and after-times
   May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
Fool!  as if half eyes will not know a fleece
   From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece?


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