Gay, John

English, (1685-1732)

The Gardener and the Hog

  1. A gard’ner of peculiar taste,
  2. On a young Hog his favour plac’d;
  3. Who fed not with the common herd;
  4. His tray was to the hall preferred:
  5. He wallowed underneath the board,
  6. Or in his master’s chamber snor’d,
  7. Who fondly stroked him every day,
  8. And taught him all the puppy’s play;
  9. Where’er he went, the grunting friend
  10. Ne’er failed his pleasure to attend.
  11.  
  12. As on a time, the loving pair
  13. Walk’d forth to tend the garden’s care,
  14. The Master thus address’d the Swine:
  15. “My house, my garden, all is thine.
  16. On turnips feast whene’er you please,
  17. And riot in my beans and peas;
  18. If the potato’s taste delights,
  19. Or the red carrot’s sweet invites,
  20. Indulge thy morn and evening hours,
  21. But let due care regard my flowers:
  22. My tulips are my garden’s pride:
  23. What vast expense those beds supplied!”
  24.  
  25. The Hog by chance one morning roam’d,
  26. Where with new ale the vessels foam’d.
  27. He munches now the steaming grains,
  28. Now with full swill the liquor drains.
  29. Intoxicating fumes arise;
  30. He reels, he rolls his winking eyes;
  31. Then stagg’ring through the garden scours,
  32. And treads down painted ranks of flowers.
  33. With delving snout he turns the soil,
  34. And cools his palate with the spoil.
  35.  
  36. The Master came, the ruin spied,
  37. “Villain, suspend thy rage, (he cried)
  38. Hast thou, thou most ungrateful sot,
  39. My charge, my only charge forgot?
  40. What, all my flowers!” No more he said,
  41. But gazed, and sighed, and hung his head.
  42. The Hog with stutt’ring speech returns:
  43. “Explain, Sir, why your anger burns.
  44. See there, untouched, your tulips strown,
  45. For I devoured the roots alone.”
  46.  
  47. At this the Gard’ner’s passion grows;
  48. From oaths and threats he fell to blows:
  49. The stubborn brute the blow sustains,
  50. Assaults his leg, and tears the veins.
  51. Ah! foolish Swain, too late you find
  52. That sties were for such friends design’d!
  53. Homeward he limps with painful pace,
  54. Reflecting thus on past disgrace:
  55. “Who cherishes a brutal mate,
  56. Shall mourn the folly soon or late.”

 Fables. (1727).

The Wild Boar and the Ram

  1. against an elm a sheep was ty’d;
  2. The butcher’s knife in blood was dy’d;
  3. The patient flock, in silent fright,
  4. From far beheld the horrid sight:
  5. A savage Boar who near them stood,
  6. Thus mock’d to scorn the fleecy brood.
  7.  
  8. “All cowards should be serv’d like you.
  9. See, see, your murd’rer is is view:
  10. With purple hands and reeking knife
  11. He strips the skin yet warm with life.
  12. Your quarter’d sires, your bleeding dams,
  13. The dying bleet of harmless lambs,
  14. Call for revenge. O stupid race!
  15. The heart that wants revenge is base.”
  16.  
  17. “I grant (an anchient Ram replies)
  18. We bear no terror in our eyes;
  19. Yet think us not of soul so tame,
  20. Which no repeated wrongs inflame;
  21. Insensible of ev’ry ill,
  22. Becasue we want thy tusks to kill.
  23. Know, those who violence persue,
  24. Give to themselves the vengence due,
  25. For in these masacres they find
  26. The two chief plagues that waste mankind.
  27. Our skin supplies the wrangling bar,
  28. It wakes the slumbering sons to war,
  29. And well revenge may rest contented,
  30. Since drums and parchment were invented.”

 Fables. (1727).

About the Poet:

John Gay (1685-1732) was an English poet and dramatist and a friend of Pope and Swift. He is best remembered for The Beggar’s Opera (1728), set to music by Johann Christoph Pepusch. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum, became household names. Two hundred years later that play was the basis for Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht’s classical work Dreigroschenoper (1928) or The Threepenny Opera.

In 1727 Gay wrote Fables, a series of brief moral tales, often satirical in tone. The moral that rounds off each little story is never strained. The fables are masterpieces in their kind, and the very numerous editions of them prove their popularity and they established Gay’s reputation as a poet. [DES-03/12]

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