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Poem by John Gay


Part I. Fable 39. The Father and Jupiter


  The man to Jove his suit preferred;
  He begged a wife. His prayer was heard,
  Jove wondered at his bold addressing:
  For how precarious is the blessing!
  A wife he takes. And now for heirs
  Again he worries heaven with prayers.
  Jove nods assent. Two hopeful boys
  And a fine girl reward his joys.
  Now, more solicitous he grew,
  And set their future lives in view;

  He saw that all respect and duty
  Were paid to wealth, to power, and beauty.
  'Once more,' he cries, 'accept my prayer;
  Make my loved progeny thy care.
  Let my first hope, my favourite boy,
  All fortune's richest gifts enjoy.
  My next with strong ambition fire:
  May favour teach him to aspire;
  Till he the step of power ascend,
  And courtiers to their idol bend.

  With every grace, with every charm,
  My daughter's perfect features arm.
  If heaven approve, a father's bless'd.'
  Jove smiles, and grants his full request.
     The first, a miser at the heart,
  Studious of every griping art,
  Heaps hoards on hoards with anxious pain;
  And all his life devotes to gain.
  He feels no joy, his cares increase,
  He neither wakes nor sleeps in peace;

  In fancied want (a wretch complete)
  He starves, and yet he dares not eat.
     The next to sudden honours grew:
  The thriving art of Courts he knew:
  He reached the height of power and place;
  Then fell, the victim of disgrace.
     Beauty with early bloom supplies
  His daughter's cheek, and points her eyes.
  The vain coquette each suit disdains,
  And glories in her lover's pains.

  With age she fades, each lover flies;
  Contemned, forlorn, she pines and dies.
     When Jove the father's grief surveyed,
  And heard him Heaven and Fate upbraid,
  Thus spoke the god: 'By outward show,
  Men judge of happiness and woe:
  Shall ignorance of good and ill
  Dare to direct the eternal will?
  Seek virtue; and, of that possess'd,
  To Providence resign the rest'



                      John Gay


John Gay's other poems:
  1. Part II. Fable 17. Ay and No
  2. Sweet William's Farewell To Black-Ey'd Susan
  3. The Quidnunckis
  4. To A Young Lady, With Some Lampreys
  5. Part II. Fable 12. Pan and Fortune


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