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Cookmaid, Turnspit, And Ox Post by :brettslane Category :Poems Author :John Gay Date :May 2011 Read :1946

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Cookmaid, Turnspit, And Ox

(_To a Poor Man._)

Consider man in every sphere,
Then answer,--Is your lot severe?
Is God unjust? You would be fed:
I grant you have to toil for bread.
Your wants are plainly to you known,
So every mortal feels his own;
Nor would I dare to say I knew,
'Midst men, one happier man than you.

Adam in Paradise was lone;
With Eve was first transgression known;
And thus they fell, and thus disgrace
Entailed the curse on human race.

When Philip's son, by glory fired,
The empire of the world desired,
He wept to find the course he ran--
Despite of altars--was of man.
So avaricious hopes are checked,
And so proud man may lack respect;
And so ambition may be foiled
Of the reward for which it moiled.
The wealthy surfeit of their wealth,
Grudging the ploughman's strength and health.
The man, who weds the loveliest wife,
Weds, with her loveliness, much strife.
One wants an heir: another rails
Upon his heirs and the entails.
Another--but can'st thou discern
Envies and jealousies that burn?
Bid them avaunt! and say you have
Blessings unknown, which others crave.

"Where is the turnspit? Bob is gone,
And dinner must be drest by one:
Where is that cur--(and I am loth
To say that Betty swore an oath)--
The sirloin's spoiled: I'll give it him!"--
And Betty did look fierce and grim.
Bob, who saw mischief in her eye,
Avoided her--approaching nigh:
He feared the broomstick, too, with physics
As dread as Betty's metaphysics.

"What star did at my birth preside,
That I should be born-slave?" he sighed:
"To tread that spit, of horrid sound--
Inglorious task--to which no hound,
That ever I knew, was abased.
Whence is my line and lineage traced?
I would that I had been professed
A lap-dog, by some dame caressed:
I would I had been born a spaniel,
Sagacious nostrilled, and called Daniel:
I would I had been born a lion,
Although I scorn a feline scion:
I would I had been born of woman,
And free from servitude--as human;
My lot had then been, I discern, fit,
And not, as now, a wretched turnspit."

An ox replied, who heard this whine:
"Dare you at partial fate repine?
Behold me, now beneath the goad.
And now beneath the waggon's load;
Now ploughing the tenacious plain,
And housing now the yellow grain.
Yet I without a murmur bear
These various labours of the year.
Yet come it will, the day decreed
By fates, when I am doomed to bleed:
And you, by duties of your post,
Must turn the spit when I must roast;
And to repay your currish moans
Will have the pickings of my bones."

The turnspit answered: "Superficial
Has been my gaze on poor and rich, all.
What, do the mighty ones then bear
Their load of carking grief and care?
And man perhaps--ah, goodness knows!--
May have his share of pains and woes."

So saying, with contented look.
Bob wagged his tail, and followed cook.

(The end)
John Gay's poem: Cookmaid, Turnspit, And Ox

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