Southey, Robert

Britain, (1774-1843)

ODE
To A Pig While His Nose Was Being Bored.

  1. Hark! hark! that Pig — that Pig! the hideous note,
  2. More loud, more dissonant, each moment grows —
  3. Would one not think the knife was in his throat?
  4. And yet they are only boring through his nose.
  5.  
  6. You foolish beast, so rudely to withstand
  7. Your master’s will, to feel such idle fears!
  8. Why, Pig, there’s not a Lady in the land
  9. Who has not also bor’d and ring’d her ears.
  10.  
  11. Pig! ’tis your master’s pleasure — then be still,
  12. And hold your nose to let the iron through!
  13. Dare you resist your lawful Sovereign’s will?
  14. Rebellious Swine! you know not what you do!
  15.  
  16. To man o’er beast the power was given;
  17. Pig, hear the truth, and never murmur more!
  18. Would you rebel against the will of Heaven?
  19. You impious beast, be still, and let them bore!
  20.  
  21. The social Pig resigns his natural rights
  22. When first with man he covenants to live;
  23. He barters them for safer stye delights,
  24. For grains and wash, which man alone can give.
  25.  
  26. Sure is provision on the social plan,
  27. Secure the comforts that to each belong:
  28. Oh, happy Swine! the impartial sway of man
  29. Alike protects the weak Pig and the strong.
  30.  
  31. And you resist! you struggle now because
  32. Your master has thought fit to bore your nose!
  33. You grunt in flat rebellion to the laws
  34. Society finds needful to impose!
  35.  
  36. Go to the forest, Piggy, and deplore
  37. The miserable lot of savage Swine!
  38. See how the young Pigs fly from the great Boar,
  39. And see how coarse and scantily they dine!
  40.  
  41. Behold their hourly danger, when who will
  42. May hunt or snare or seize them for his food!
  43. Oh, happy Pig! whom none presumes to kill
  44. Till your protecting master thinks it good!
  45.  
  46. And when, at last, the closing hour of life
  47. Arrives (for Pigs must die as well as Man),
  48. When in your throat you feel the long sharp knife,
  49. And the blood trickles to the pudding-pan;
  50.  
  51. And when, at last, the death wound yawning wide,
  52. Fainter and fainter grows the expiring cry,
  53. Is there no grateful joy, no loyal pride,
  54. To think that for your master’s good you die?

Robert Southey. The poetical works of Robert Southey. Paris: A. and W. Galignani (1829).

The Pig

  1. Jacob! I do not love to see thy nose
  2. Turn’d up in scornful curve at yonder Pig.
  3. It would be well, my friend, if we, like him
  4. Were perfect in our kind! — And why despise
  5. The sow-born grunter? — He is obstinate,
  6. Thou answerest; ugly, and the filthiest beast
  7. That banquets upon offal. Now I pray you,
  8. Hear the Pig’s Counsel.
  9.  
  10. Is he obstinate?
  11. We must not, Jacob, be deceived by words,
  12. By sophist sounds. A democratic beast
  13. He bows that his unmerciful drivers seek
  14. Their profit, and not his. He hath not learnt
  15. That Pigs were made for man, — born to be brawn’d
  16. And baconised: that he must please to give
  17. Just what his gracious masters please to take;
  18. Perhaps his tusks, the weapons Nature gave
  19. For self-defence, the general privilege:
  20. Perhaps, — hark Jacob! dost thou hear that horn?
  21. Woe to the young posterity of Pork!
  22. Their enemy is at hand.
  23.  
  24. Again thou sayest,
  25. The Pig is ugly. Jacob, look at him!
  26. Those eyes have taught the lover flattery.
  27. His face, — nay Jacob, Jacob! were it fair
  28. To judge a Lady in her dishabille?
  29. Fancy it drest, and with saltpetre rouged.
  30. Behold his tail, my friend; with curls like that
  31. The wanton hop marries her stately spouse:
  32. So crisp in beauty Amoretta’s hair
  33. Rings round her lover’s soul the chains of love.
  34. And what is beauty, but the aptitude
  35. Of parts harmonious? Give thy fancy scope,
  36. And thou wilt find that no imagined change
  37. Can beautify this beast. Place at his end
  38. The starry glories of the Peacock’s pride;
  39. Give him the Swan’s white breast; for his horn-hoofs
  40. Shape such a foot and ankle as the waves
  41. Crowded in eager rivalry to kiss,
  42. When Venus from the enamour’d sea arose;—
  43. Jacob, thou cans’t but make a monster of him!
  44. All alteration man could think, would mar
  45. His Pig-perfection.
  46.  
  47. The last charge, — he lives
  48. A dirty life. Here I could shelter him
  49. With noble and right-reverend precedents,
  50. And show by sanction of authority
  51. That ’tis a very honourable thing
  52. To thrive by dirty ways. But let me rest
  53. On better ground the unanswerable defence.
  54. The Pig is a philosopher, who knows
  55. No prejudice. Dirt? Jacob, what is dirt?
  56. If matter, — why the delicate dish that tempts
  57. An o’ergorged epicure to the last morsel
  58. That stuffs him to the throat-gates, is no more.
  59. If matter be not, but as sages say,
  60. Spirit is all, and all things visible
  61. Are one, the infinitely modified.
  62. Think, Jacob, what that Pig is, and the mire
  63. Wherein he stands knee-deep!
  64.  
  65. And there! that breeze
  66. Pleads with me, and has won thee to the smile
  67. That speaks conviction. O’er you blossom’d field
  68. Of beans it came, and thoughts of bacon rise.
  69.  
  70. Westbury (1799)

Robert Southey. The poetical works of Robert Southey. Paris: A. and W. Galignani (1829).

About the Poet

Robert Southey (1774-1843), English poet, a close associate of Wordsworth and Coleridge whose early political and religious radicalism was short lived, and he became a leading contributor to the Tory Quarterly Review.

Associated with the Lake Poets, Southey wrote a number of long narrative poems, but is best known for his shorter poems, and for his biography the life of Nelson (1813). Southey was made Poet Laureate of England in 1813. [DES-6/03]

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