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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 3. The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy

  Give me a son! The blessing sent,
  Were ever parents more content?
  How partial are their doting eyes!
  No child is half so fair and wise.
     Waked to the morning's pleasing care,
  The mother rose, and sought her heir.
  She saw the nurse, like one possess'd,
  With wringing hands, and sobbing breast.
     'Sure some disaster hath befell:
  Speak, nurse; I hope the boy is well.'

     'Dear madam, think not me to blame;
  Invisible the fairy came:
  Your precious babe is hence conveyed,
  And in the place a changeling laid.
  Where are the father's mouth and nose,
  The mother's eyes, as black as sloes?
  See here a shocking awkward creature,
  That speaks a fool in every feature.'
     'The woman's blind,' the mother cries;
  'I see wit sparkle in his eyes.'

     'Lord! madam, what a squinting leer;
  No doubt the fairy hath been here.'
     Just as she spoke, a pigmy sprite
  Pops through the key-hole, swift as light;
  Perched on the cradle's top he stands,
  And thus her folly reprimands:
     'Whence sprung the vain conceited lie,
  That we the world with fools supply?
  What! give our sprightly race away,
  For the dull helpless sons of clay!

  Besides, by partial fondness shown,
  Like you we doat upon our own.
  Where yet was ever found a mother,
  Who'd give her booby for another?
  And should we change for human breed,
  Well might we pass for fools indeed.'

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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