John Gay

Part I. Fable 4. The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals

  As Jupiter's all-seeing eye
  Surveyed the worlds beneath the sky,
  From this small speck of earth were sent,
  Murmurs and sounds of discontent;
  For every thing alive complained,
  That he the hardest life sustained.
  Jove calls his eagle. At the word
  Before him stands the royal bird.
  The bird, obedient, from heaven's height,
  Downward directs his rapid flight;

  Then cited every living thing,
  To hear the mandates of his king.
     'Ungrateful creatures, whence arise
  These murmurs which offend the skies?
  Why this disorder? say the cause:
  For just are Jove's eternal laws.
  Let each his discontent reveal;
  To yon sour dog, I first appeal.'
     'Hard is my lot,' the hound replies,
  'On what fleet nerves the greyhound flies,

  While I, with weary step and slow,
  O'er plains and vales, and mountains go.
  The morning sees my chase begun,
  Nor ends it till the setting sun.'
     'When,' says the greyhound, 'I pursue,
  My game is lost, or caught in view;
  Beyond my sight the prey's secure:
  The hound is slow, but always sure.
  And had I his sagacious scent,
  Jove ne'er had heard my discontent.'

     The lion craved the fox's art;
  The fox, the lion's force and heart:
  The cock implored the pigeon's flight,
  Whose wings were rapid, strong, and light:
  The pigeon strength of wing despised,
  And the cock's matchless valour prized:
  The fishes wished to graze the plain;
  The beasts to skim beneath the main.
  Thus, envious of another's state,
  Each blamed the partial hand of Fate.

     The bird of heaven then cried aloud,
  'Jove bids disperse the murmuring crowd;
  The god rejects your idle prayers.
  Would ye, rebellious mutineers,
  Entirely change your name and nature,
  And be the very envied creature?
  What, silent all, and none consent!
  Be happy then, and learn content:
  Nor imitate the restless mind,
  And proud ambition, of mankind.'

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