John Gay was an English poet and dramatist and member of the Scriblerus Club. He is best remembered for The Beggar's Opera (1728), a ballad opera. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum, became household names.
Gay was born in Barnstaple, England and was educated at the town's grammar school. On leaving school he was apprenticed to a silk mercer in London, but being weary, according to Samuel Johnson, "of either the restraint or the servility of his occupation", he soon returned to Barnstaple, where he was educated by his uncle, the Rev. John Hanmer, the Nonconformist minister of the town. He then returned to ... more »
Click here to add this poet to your My Favorite Poets.
John Gay Poems
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.
An Elegy on a Lap-dog
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!
Sweet William's Farewell to Black-ey'd S...
1 All in the Downs the fleet was moor'd, 2 The streamers waving in the wind, 3 When black-ey'd Susan came aboard. 4 Oh! where shall I my true love find!
Trivia; or, the Art of Walking the Stree...
Thus far the Muse has trac'd in useful lays The proper implements for wintry ways; Has taught the walker, with judicious eyes, To read the various warnings of the skies.
Ode to Adversity
Daughter of Heav'n, relentless pow'r, Thou tamer of the human breast, Whose iron scourge, and tort'ring hour,
The Beggar's Opera (excerpts)
Air I.An old woman clothed in gray, &c.1- Through all the employments of life - Each neighbour abuses his brother;
The Fan : A Poem. Book I.
I sing that graceful toy, whose waving play, With gentle gales relieves the sultry day. Not the wide fan by Persian dames display'd,
The Shepherd's Week : Thursday; or, The ...
Hobnelia. Hobnelia, seated in a dreary vale, In pensive mood rehears'd her piteous tale,
Rural Sports: A Georgic - Canto I.
You, who the sweets of rural life have known, Despise the ungrateful hurry of the town; In Windsor groves your easy hours employ,
Acis and Galatea
Air. Love in her eyes sits playing, And sheds delicious death; Love on her lips is straying,
The Shepherd and the Philosopher
Remote from cities liv'd a swain, Unvex'd with all the cares of gain; His head was silver'd o'er with age, And long experience made him sage;
I. 'Twas when the seas were roaring With hollow blasts of wind; A damsel lay deploring,
Fable XLII. The Juggler
A juggler long through all the town Had raised his fortune and renown; You'd think (so far his art transcends)
Trivia; or the Art of Walking the Street...
Of the Implements for Walking the Streets, and Signs of the Weather. Through winter streets to steer your courses aright,
Quotationsmore quotations »
''Lions, wolves, and vultures don't live together in herds, droves or flocks. Of all animals of prey, man is the only sociable one. Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.''John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist. Lockit, in The Beggar's Opera, act 3, sc. 2.
''Sure men were born to lie, and women to believe them!''John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist. Lucy, in The Beggar's Opera, act 2, sc. 13.
''I must have womenthere is nothing unbends the mind like them.''John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist, poet. Macheath, in The Beggar's Opera, act 2, sc. 3 (1728), ed. F.W. Bateson (1934).
''I must have womenthere is nothing unbends the mind like them.''John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist. Macheath, in The Beggar's Opera, act 2, sc. 3.
''Of all mechanics, of all servile handycrafts-men, a gamester is the vilest. But yet, as many of the quality are of the profession, he is admitted amongst the politest company.''John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist. Matt of the Mint, in The Beggar's Opera, act 3, sc. 4.
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
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.