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Thomas Hood

(1789-1845 / London / England)

The Lament of Toby, The Learned Pig


Oh, heavy day! oh, day of woe!
To misery a poster,
Why was I ever farrowed, why
Not spitted for a roaster?

In this world, pigs, as well as men,
Must dance to fortune's fiddlings,
But must I give the classics up,
For barley-meal and middlings?

Of what avail that I could spell
And read, just like my betters,
If I must come to this at last,
To litters, not to letters?

Oh, why are pigs made scholars of?
It baffles my discerning,
What griskins, fry, and chitterlings
Can have to do with learning.

Alas! my learning once drew cash,
But public fame's unstable,
So I must turn a pig again
And fatten for the table.

To leave my literary line
My eyes get red and leaky;
But Giblett doesn't want me blue,
But red and white, and streaky.

Old Mullins used to cultivate
My learning like a gard'ner;
But Giblett only thinks of lard,
And not of Doctor Lardner.

He does not care about my brain
The value of two coppers,
All that he thinks about my head
Is, how I'm off for choppers.

Of all my literary kin
A farewell must be taken,
Goodbye to the poetic Hogg!
The philosophic Bacon!

Day after day my lessons fade,
My intellect gets muddy;
A trough I have, and not a desk,
A stye – and not a study!

Another little month, and then
My progress ends, like Bunyan's;
The seven sages that I loved
Will be chopped up with onions!

Then over head and ears in brine
They'll souse me, like a salmon,
My mathematics turned to brawn,
My logic into gammon.

My Hebrew will all retrograde,
Now I'm put up to fatten,
My Greek, it will all go to grease,
The dogs will have my Latin!

Farewell to Oxford ! – and to Bliss!
To Milman, Crowe, and Glossop, –
I now must be content with chats,
Instead of learned gossip!

Farewell to 'Town!' farewell to 'Gown!'
I've quite outgrown the latter, –
Instead of Trencher-cap my head
Will soon be in a platter!

Oh, why did I at Brazen-Nose
Rout up the roots of knowledge?
A butcher that can't read will kill
A pig that's been to college!

For sorrow I could stick myself,
But conscience is a dasher;
A thing that would be rash in man
In me would be a rasher!

One thing I ask – when I am dead
And past the Stygian ditches –
And that is, let my schoolmaster
Have one of my two Hitches.

'Twas he who taught my letters so
I ne'er mistook or missed 'em,
Simply by ringing at the nose
According to Bell's system.

Submitted: Monday, April 05, 2010

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