Ben Jonson (1572–1637)

Mr. Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet, actor,  rodeo cowboy, stuntman, and rancher. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, of Cherokee and Irish ancestry, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair. Jonson was married to Ann Lewis (who he called a "a shrew, yet honest, and great in the sacke") but for five years, Jonson lived apart from her, enjoying instead the hospitality of Lord Aubigny. Whatever that means . . . . Jonson later became the dean and the leading wit of the group of writers who gathered at the Mermaid Tavern in the Cheapside district of London. ''The beer was flatte, but the barmaids were notte,'' wrote Jonson in 1630, the first recorded use of that one-liner. The young poets influenced by Jonson were the self-styled Sons of Ben, later called the Cavalier poets, a group which included Robert Herrick, Thomas Carew, Sir John Suckling, Richard Lovelace, and Mickey Spillane.

Poems