[Page 138]


The Owl and the Farmer.

1 An Owl of grave deport and mien,
2 Who (like the Turk) was seldom seen,
3 Within a barn had chose his station,
4 As fit for prey and contemplation:
5 Upon a beam aloft he sits,
6 And nods, and seems to think, by fits.
[Page 139]
7 So have I seen a man of news
8 Or Post-boy, or Gazette peruse,
9 Smoak, nod, and talk with voice profound,
10 And fix the fate of Europe round.
11 Sheaves pil'd on sheaves hid all the floor:
12 At dawn of morn to view his store
13 The Farmer came. The hooting guest
14 His self-importance thus exprest.
15 Reason in man is meer pretence:
16 How weak, how shallow is his sense!
17 To treat with scorn the bird of night,
18 Declares his folly or his spite;
19 Then too, how partial is his praise!
20 The lark's, the linnet's chirping lays
21 To his ill-judging ears are fine;
22 And nightingales are all divine.
23 But the more knowing feather'd race
24 See wisdom stampt upon my face.
25 Whene'er to visit light I deign,
26 What flocks of fowl compose my train!
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27 Like slaves, they croud my flight behind,
28 And own me of superior kind.
29 The Farmer laugh'd, and thus reply'd.
30 Thou dull important lump of pride,
31 Dar'st thou with that harsh grating tongue
32 Depreciate birds of warbling song?
33 Indulge thy spleen. Know, men and fowl
34 Regard thee, as thou art, an owl.
35 Besides, proud blockhead, be not vain
36 Of what thou call'st thy slaves and train.
37 Few follow wisdom or her rules,
38 Fools in derision follow fools.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): FABLE [41] XLI. The Owl and the Farmer.
Author: John Gay
Themes: animals
Genres: fable

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Source edition

Gay, John, 1685-1732. FABLES. By Mr. GAY. London: Printed for J. Tonson and J. Watts, MDCCXXVII., 1727, pp. 138-140. [14],173,[1]p.: ill.; 4°. (ESTC T13818)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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