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(30 June 1685 – 4 December 1732 / Barnstaple, England)

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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.'

Submitted: Sunday, May 27, 2001
Edited: Friday, August 31, 2012


Read poems about / on: friend, horse, freedom, death, father, child, fear, light, children

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Comments about this poem (Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air XVI-“Over the Hills, and Far Away” by John Gay )

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  • Aftab Alam Khursheed (8/31/2013 1:59:00 AM)

    first stanza worth of dying immensity a poem that teaces many thing lovely poem

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Kevin Straw (8/31/2012 10:41:00 AM)

    This seems a cynical attitude towards friendship, but it must be remembered that the hare was facing a terrible foe. How many Germans helped their friends out when the Gestapo came for them?

  • Stevie Taite (8/31/2012 4:55:00 AM)

    I love story poems like this, with moral!

  • Ramesh T A (8/31/2011 3:37:00 AM)

    All are friends! But who is real friend? It reminds me of a friend in need is a friend in deed! The poem of John Gay very well depicts this moral truth!

  • Catrina Heart (8/31/2009 9:32:00 AM)

    WoW! ! ! Thanks PH has published John Gay's poems here....he did more to literature more like William Shakespeare.

  • Archie Langford (8/31/2008 8:10:00 AM)

    in life one finds friends abound
    but none will save one from the hound
    rely on no one trust no one
    and it follows you wont get done a l

  • Helen Lopez (8/31/2007 9:50:00 PM)

    This is very interesting... i love it!

  • Marilyn Lott (8/31/2007 9:19:00 AM)

    I love how this story unfolds. A delightful
    poem!

    Marilyn

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