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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 44. The Hound and the Huntsman

  Impertinence at first is borne
  With heedless slight, or smiles of scorn;
  Teased into wrath, what patience bears
  The noisy fool who perseveres?
     The morning wakes, the huntsman sounds,
  At once rush forth the joyful hounds.
  They seek the wood with eager pace,
  Through bush, through brier, explore the chase.
  Now scattered wide, they try the plain,
  And snuff the dewy turf in vain.

  What care, what industry, what pains!
  What universal silence reigns.
     Ringwood, a dog of little fame,
  Young, pert, and ignorant of game,
  At once displays his babbling throat;
  The pack, regardless of the note,
  Pursue the scent; with louder strain
  He still persists to vex the train.
     The huntsman to the clamour flies;
  The smacking lash he smartly plies.

  His ribs all welked, with howling tone
  The puppy thus expressed his moan:
     'I know the music of my tongue
  Long since the pack with envy stung.
  What will not spite? These bitter smarts
  I owe to my superior parts.'
     'When puppies prate,' the huntsman cried,
  'They show both ignorance and pride:
  Fools may our scorn, not envy raise,
  For envy is a kind of praise.

  Had not thy forward noisy tongue
  Proclaimed thee always in the wrong,
  Thou might'st have mingled with the rest,
  And ne'er thy foolish nose confess'd.
  But fools, to talking ever prone,
  Are sure to make their follies known.'

John Gay

John Gay's other poems:
  1. Prediction
  2. To My Chair
  3. To a Lady on Her Passion for Old China
  4. An Epistle to Her Grace, Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough
  5. The Quidnunckis

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