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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 28. The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud

  Is there a bard whom genius fires,
  Whose every thought the god inspires?
  When Envy reads the nervous lines,
  She frets, she rails, she raves, she pines;
  Her hissing snakes with venom swell;
  She calls her venal train from hell:
  The servile fiends her nod obey,
  And all Curl's authors are in pay,
  Fame calls up calumny and spite.
  Thus shadow owes its birth to light.

     As prostrate to the god of day,
  With heart devout, a Persian lay,
  His invocation thus begun:
     'Parent of light, all-seeing Sun,
  Prolific beam, whose rays dispense
  The various gifts of providence,
  Accept our praise, our daily prayer,
  Smile on our fields, and bless the year.'
     A cloud, who mocked his grateful tongue,
  The day with sudden darkness hung;

  With pride and envy swelled, aloud
  A voice thus thundered from the cloud:
     'Weak is this gaudy god of thine,
  Whom I at will forbid to shine.
  Shall I nor vows, nor incense know?
  Where praise is due, the praise bestow.'
     With fervent zeal the Persian moved,
  Thus the proud calumny reproved:
     'It was that god, who claims my prayer,
  Who gave thee birth, and raised thee there;

  When o'er his beams the veil is thrown,
  Thy substance is but plainer shown.
  A passing gale, a puff of wind
  Dispels thy thickest troops combined.'
     The gale arose; the vapour toss'd
  (The sport of winds) in air was lost;
  The glorious orb the day refines.
  Thus envy breaks, thus merit shines.

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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