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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 35. The Barley-mow and the Dunghill

  How many saucy airs we meet
  From Temple Bar to Aldgate Street!
  Proud rogues, who shared the South-Sea prey,
  And sprung like mushrooms in a day!
  They think it mean, to condescend
  To know a brother or a friend;
  They blush to hear their mother's name,
  And by their pride expose their shame.
     As cross his yard, at early day,
  A careful farmer took his way,

  He stopped, and leaning on his fork,
  Observed the flail's incessant work.
  In thought he measured all his store,
  His geese, his hogs, he numbered o'er;
  In fancy weighed the fleeces shorn,
  And multiplied the next year's corn.
     A Barley-mow, which stood beside,
  Thus to its musing master cried:
     'Say, good sir, is it fit or right
  To treat me with neglect and slight?

  Me, who contribute to your cheer,
  And raise your mirth with ale and beer?
  Why thus insulted, thus disgraced,
  And that vile dunghill near me placed?
  Are those poor sweepings of a groom,
  That filthy sight, that nauseous fume,
  Meet objects here? Command it hence:
  A thing so mean must give offence'
     The humble dunghill thus replied:
  'Thy master hears, and mocks thy pride:

  Insult not thus the meek and low;
  In me thy benefactor know;
  My warm assistance gave thee birth,
  Or thou hadst perished low in earth;
  But upstarts, to support their station,
  Cancel at once all obligation.'

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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