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Poem by John Gay

Part I. Fable 38. The Turkey and the Ant

  In other men we faults can spy,
  And blame the mote that dims their eye,
  Each little speck and blemish find,
  To our own stronger errors blind.
     A turkey, tired of common food,
  Forsook the barn, and sought the wood;
  Behind her ran her infant train,
  Collecting here and there a grain.
     'Draw near, my birds,' the mother cries,
  'This hill delicious fare supplies;

  Behold, the busy negro race,
  See, millions blacken all the place!
  Fear not. Like me with freedom eat;
  An ant is most delightful meat.
  How bless'd, how envied were our life,
  Could we but 'scape the poulterer's knife!
  But man, cursed man, on turkeys preys,
  And Christmas shortens all our days:
  Sometimes with oysters we combine,
  Sometimes assist the savoury chine.

  From the low peasant to the lord,
  The turkey smokes on every board.
  Sure men for gluttony are cursed,
  Of the seven deadly sins the worst.'
     An ant, who climbed beyond his reach,
  Thus answered from the neighbouring beech:
     'Ere you remark another's sin, 27
  Bid thy own conscience look within;
  Control thy more voracious bill,
  Nor for a breakfast nations kill.'

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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