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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 46. The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog

  The lad of all-sufficient merit,
  With modesty ne'er damps his spirit;
  Presuming on his own deserts,
  On all alike his tongue exerts;
  His noisy jokes at random throws,
  And pertly spatters friends and foes;
  In wit and war the bully race
  Contribute to their own disgrace.
  Too late the forward youth shall find
  That jokes are sometimes paid in kind;

  Or if they canker in the breast,
  He makes a foe who makes a jest.
     A village-cur, of snappish race,
  The pertest puppy of the place,
  Imagined that his treble throat
  Was blest with music's sweetest note:
  In the mid road he basking lay,
  The yelping nuisance of the way;
  For not a creature passed along,
  But had a sample of his song.

     Soon as the trotting steed he hears,
  He starts, he cocks his dapper ears;
  Away he scours, assaults his hoof;
  Now near him snarls, now barks aloof;
  With shrill impertinence attends;
  Nor leaves him till the village ends.
     It chanced, upon his evil day,
  A pad came pacing down the way:
  The cur, with never-ceasing tongue,
  Upon the passing traveller sprung.

  The horse, from scorn provoked to ire,
  Flung backward; rolling in the mire,
  The puppy howled, and bleeding lay;
  The pad in peace pursued the way.
     A shepherd's dog, who saw the deed,
  Detesting the vexatious breed,
  Bespoke him thus: 'When coxcombs prate,
  They kindle wrath, contempt, or hate;
  Thy teasing tongue had judgment tied,
  Thou hadst not, like a puppy, died.'

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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