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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 16. The Pin and the Needle

  A pin, who long had served a beauty,
  Proficient in the toilet's duty,
  Had formed her sleeve, confined her hair,
  Or given her knot a smarter air,
  Now nearest to her heart was placed,
  Now in her mantua's tail disgraced:
  But could she partial fortune blame,
  Who saw her lovers served the same?
     At length from all her honours cast;
  Through various turns of life she pass'd;

  Now glittered on a tailor's arm;
  Now kept a beggar's infant warm;
  Now, ranged within a miser's coat,
  Contributes to his yearly groat;
  Now, raised again from low approach,
  She visits in the doctor's coach;
  Here, there, by various fortune toss'd,
  At last in Gresham Hall was lost.
  Charmed with the wonders of the show,
  On every side, above, below,

  She now of this or that enquires,
  What least was understood admires.
  'Tis plain, each thing so struck her mind.
  Her head's of virtuoso kind.
     'And pray what's this, and this, dear sir?'
  'A needle,' says the interpreter.
  She knew the name. And thus the fool
  Addressed her as a tailor's tool:
     'A needle with that filthy stone,
  Quite idle, all with rust o'ergrown!

  You better might employ your parts,
  And aid the sempstress in her arts.
  But tell me how the friendship grew
  Between that paltry flint and you?'
     'Friend,' says the needle, 'cease to blame;
  I follow real worth and fame.
  Know'st thou the loadstone's power and art,
  That virtue virtues can impart?
  Of all his talents I partake,
  Who then can such a friend forsake?

  'Tis I directs the pilot's hand
  To shun the rocks and treacherous sand:
  By me the distant world is known,
  And either India is our own.
  Had I with milliners been bred,
  What had I been? the guide of thread,
  And drudged as vulgar needles do,
  Of no more consequence than you.'

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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