Fable L: The Hare and Many Friends
Friendship, as love, is but a name,
Save in a concentrated flame;
And thus, in friendships, who depend
On more than one, find not one friend.
A hare who, in a civil way,
Was not dissimilar to GAY,
Was well known never to offend,
And every creature was her friend.
As was her wont, at early dawn,
She issued to the dewy lawn;
When, from the wood and empty lair,
The cry of hounds fell on her ear.
She started at the frightful sounds,
And doubled to mislead the hounds;
Till, fainting with her beating heart,
She saw the horse, who fed apart.
'My friend, the hounds are on my track;
Oh, let me refuge on your back! '
The horse responded: 'Honest Puss,
It grieves me much to see you thus.
Be comforted-relief is near;
Behold, the bull is in the rear.'
Then she implored the stately bull,
His answer we relate in full:
'Madam, each beast alive can tell
How very much I wish you well;
But business presses in a heap,
I an appointment have to keep;
And now a lady's in the case,-
When other things, you know, give place.
Behold the goat is just behind;
Trust, trust you'll not think me unkind.'
The goat declared his rocky lairs
Wholly unsuited were to hares.
'There is the sheep,' he said, 'with fleece.
Adapted, now, to your release.'
The sheep replied that she was sure
Her weight was too great to endure;
'Besides,' she said, 'hounds worry sheep.'
Next was a calf, safe in a keep:
'Oh, help me, bull-calf-lend me aid! '
'My youth and inexperience weighed,'
Replied the bull-calf, 'though I rue it,
Make me incompetent to do it;
My friends might take offence. My heart-
You know my heart, my friend-we part,
I do assure you-Hark! adieu!
The pack, in full cry, is in view.'
John Gay's Other Poems
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