The Man and the Flea
Whether on earth, in air, or main,
Sure ev'ry thing alive is vain!
Does not the hawk all fowls survey,
As destin'd only for his prey?
And do not tyrants, prouder things,
Think men were born for slaves to kings?
When the crab views the pearly strands,
Or Tagus bright with golden sands,
Or crawls beside the coral grove,
And hears the ocean roll above,
'Nature is too profuse,' says he,
'Who gave all these to pleasure me!'
When bord'ring pinks and roses bloom,
And ev'ry garden breathes perfume,
When peaches glow with sunny dyes
Like Laura's cheek when blushes rise,
When with huge figs the branches bend,
When clusters from the vine depend,
The snail looks round on flow'r and tree,
And cries, 'All these were made for me!'
'What dignity's in human nature,'
Says Man, the most conceited creature,
As from a cliff he cast his eye,
And view'd the sea and arched sky!
The sun was sunk beneath the main,
The moon and all the starry train
Hung the vast vault of heav'n. The Man
His contemplation thus began:
'When I behold this glorious show,
And the side watry world below,
The scaly people of the main,
The beasts that range the wood or plain,
The wing'd inhabitants of air,
The day, the night, the various year,
And know all these by heav'n design'd
As gifts to pleasure human kind,
I cannot raise my worth too high;
Of what vast consequence am I!'
'Not of th'importance you suppose,'
Replies a Flea upon his nose;
'Be humble; learn thyself to scan;
Know, pride was never made for Man.
'Tis vanity that swells thy mind.
What, heav'n and earth for thee design'd!
For thee! made only for our need,
That more important Fleas might feed.'
John Gay's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Man and the Flea by John Gay )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Rainer Maria Rilke
(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(1923 - 1998)
(22 August 1893 - 7 June 1967)
- Every Time I Kiss You, Nizar Qabbani
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
Poem of the Day
- Christmas This Year, Khalid Saifullah
- 'a new -but -not- very -old poetry of on.., Nyein Way
- Joy and Peace in Believing, Luo Zhihai
- My True Love Is Art, Rohit Sapra
- O God, gajanan mishra
- Art or no art, hasmukh amathalal
- Seizoenen kwijt, Madrason writer
- Mighty Ocean, Zoila T. Flores
- Words left unsaid, Yisel Chong
- Poetical Journey Of Life, RoseAnn V. Shawiak