Study Guide

Song to Celia ("Drink to me only with thine eyes") Setting

By Ben Jonson


Imagine it's 1616 and that you're in London. You're inside a dimly-lit but cozy tavern, with two other patrons. Outside, it's cold and damp – typical London weather. The fire is starting to burn down, so the bartender goes over, puts another few logs on, and disappears. After he leaves, you look over at a guy sitting in the corner; he's staring at the other patron, a woman about ten feet away. He writes, look at her, writes some more, and so on. He's also got a wreath sitting next to him and an empty glass. Every so often he picks up the wreath and sniffs it, and then returns to his paper.

The more you think about it, the more this quaint little tavern resembles a Starbucks, only a lot cozier, much quieter, with a fireplace and beer instead of coffee. It's the kind of place you go to get some work done, people watch, or to find some inspiration for your drawings or your poems. In short, it's the type of public place that lets you work in peace and where you can bring a wreath with you and nobody will bat an eye.

That's the sort of setting we picture for this poem. What do you think? How do you imagine the setting?