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The Underwood


What fables have you vexed! What truth redeemed!

Antiquities searched! Opinions disesteemed!

Impostures branded and authorities urged!

What blots and errors have you watched and purged . . .


--Ben Jonson, The Underwood 14.39-42 (on John Selden)


A bona fide idiot, I

Have likewise vexed a fabled lie,

And if no truth has been redeemed,

At least opinion’s disesteemed,

Imposture named, and error noted

--it’s not my fault how others voted!

I’ve paid, of course, for idiocy,

Individuality’s never free.

The price was parcel to the game,

It spared me the disgrace of fame!

Down here in the underwood

The air is fresh, the food is good,

My cat provides me company,

Unbothered by stupidity.

My friends are few, but of the best

For I impose no unfair test;

The only thing I’ve ever urged

’s, “Just wait a bit till error’s purged!

History will someday judge me right

If any's left and still in sight."


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