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An Elegy On A Lap-Dog

Rating: 2.9

1 Shock's fate I mourn; poor Shock is now no more,
2 Ye Muses mourn, ye chamber-maids deplore.
3 Unhappy Shock! yet more unhappy fair,
4 Doom'd to survive thy joy and only care!
5 Thy wretched fingers now no more shall deck,
6 And tie the fav'rite ribbon round his neck;
7 No more thy hand shall smooth his glossy hair,
8 And comb the wavings of his pendent ear.
9 Yet cease thy flowing grief, forsaken maid;
10 All mortal pleasures in a moment fade:

11 Our surest hope is in an hour destroy'd,
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Susan Williams 10 November 2015

John Gay has many voices- wry, satiric, gently humorous, romantic, unhappy, gleeful. His style changes with his attitude but his word choices are always perfect. Enjoyed Ian Fraser's comment below

23 0 Reply
Ian Fraser 20 July 2011

Judging by the low scores submitted, this delicious poem is not well understood by modern readers. It is in a style called mock-heroic which was very popular among the 18th century satirists. Swift, a friend of Gay's, uses it extensively in Gulliver's Travels for example. In it seemingly trivial events, in this case the death of a pet dog are blown up out of all proportion to satirize their subject. Despite his teasing style Gay was capable of some very barbed criticism, as here in the final couplet, and his work was temporarily banned by the government of the day for its seditious content.

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