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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 17. The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf

  A wolf, with hunger fierce and bold,
  Ravaged the plains, and thinned the fold:
  Deep in the wood secure he lay,
  The thefts of night regaled the day.
  In vain the shepherd's wakeful care
  Had spread the toils, and watched the snare:
  In vain the dog pursued his pace,
  The fleeter robber mocked the chase.
     As Lightfoot ranged the forest round,
  By chance his foe's retreat he found.

     'Let us awhile the war suspend,
  And reason as from friend to friend.'
     'A truce?' replies the wolf. 'Tis done.
  The dog the parley thus begun:
     'How can that strong intrepid mind
  Attack a weak defenceless kind?
  Those jaws should prey on nobler food,
  And drink the boar's and lion's blood;
  Great souls with generous pity melt,
  Which coward tyrants never felt.

  How harmless is our fleecy care!
  Be brave, and let thy mercy spare.'
     'Friend,' says the wolf, 'the matter weigh;
  Nature designed us beasts of prey;
  As such when hunger finds a treat,
  'Tis necessary wolves should eat.
  If mindful of the bleating weal,
  Thy bosom burn with real zeal;
  Hence, and thy tyrant lord beseech;
  To him repeat the moving speech;

  A wolf eats sheep but now and then,
  Ten thousands are devoured by men.
  An open foe may prove a curse,
  But a pretended friend is worse.'

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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