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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 9. The Bull and the Mastiff

  Seek you to train your fav'rite boy?
  Each caution, every care employ:
  And ere you venture to confide,
  Let his preceptor's heart be tried:
  Weigh well his manners, life, and scope;
  On these depends thy future hope.
     As on a time, in peaceful reign,
  A bull enjoyed the flowery plain,
  A mastiff passed; inflamed with ire,
  His eye-balls shot indignant fire;

  He foamed, he raged with thirst of blood
     Spurning the ground the monarch stood,
  And roared aloud, 'Suspend the fight;
  In a whole skin go sleep to-night:
  Or tell me, ere the battle rage,
  What wrongs provoke thee to engage?
  Is it ambition fires thy breast,
  Or avarice that ne'er can rest?
  From these alone unjustly springs
  The world-destroying wrath of kings.'

     The surly mastiff thus returns:
  'Within my bosom glory burns.
  Like heroes of eternal name,
  Whom poets sing, I fight for fame.
  The butcher's spirit-stirring mind
  To daily war my youth inclined;
  He trained me to heroic deed;
  Taught me to conquer, or to bleed.'
     'Cursed dog,' the bull replied, 'no more
  I wonder at thy thirst of gore;

  For thou, beneath a butcher trained,
  Whose hands with cruelty are stained;
  His daily murders in thy view,
  Must, like thy tutor, blood pursue.
  Take then thy fate.' With goring wound,
  At once he lifts him from the ground;
  Aloft the sprawling hero flies,
  Mangled he falls, he howls, and dies.

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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