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Poem by John Gay


A Milk-white Swan, in Aesops time, 
Had got the knack of making rhyme; 
All other birds he did excel; 
Wrote verses,  yes,  and wrote them well: 
Praised was his genius, and his parts  
All wondered how he reached the arts: 
Except some Geese, in neighbouring brook; 
Yet even they admired his look, 
And grudged each feather in his wing; 
But, envious, hissd wheneer hed sing! 
His sonnets they denounced as satire, 
His lyric pleasantries, ill-nature!

One day these Geese most pertly squalld, 
Cygnet!  for so the Swan was calld  
Cygnet,  why will you thus abuse 
Our patience with your doggerel muse? 
Not only you offend our ears, 
But you assail our characters! 
Blush, and no longer do amiss. 
The critics ended with a hiss.

Erect the Cygnet raised his crest, 
And thus the silly Geese addressd: 
I know not any of your tribe  
Why, then, dye feel my jest or gibe? 
Fools ever  (tis a certain rule) 
Think theyre the butts of ridicule; 
As if they so important were, 
No other theme the muse could cheer. 
Begone! you but yourselves expose, 
When thus your folly you disclose: 
Know this, and then your gabbling cease  
Swans like my verse; but you are  Geese!

John Gay

John Gay's other poems:
  1. Sweet William's Farewell to Black-Ey'd Susan
  2. To a Young Lady, with Some Lampreys
  3. An Elegy on a Lap-dog
  4. If the Heart of a Man
  5. The Quidnunckis

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