The Eloquence of Masques! What need of prose
Or verse, or Sense t'express Immortal you!
You are the Spectacles of State!
Thus Poet Ben Jonson, with as much irony as admiration, honored the costly pageants known as masques and performed at the courts of Britain's James I and Charles I. The happenings of their day, masques were part allegorical or pastoral drama, and part dance; the participants were actors, mimes, musicians, lords and ladies of the court, and some times even the reigning monarch himself. Jonson wrote some two dozen such verse spectacles, but his sprightly dialogues and ballads were all too...