The Eagle, The Sow, And The Cat

Anne Kingsmill Finch 1661 – 1720 (Westminster)

THE Queen of Birds, t'encrease the Regal Stock,
Had hatch'd her young Ones in a stately Oak,
Whose Middle-part was by a Cat possest,
And near the Root with Litter warmly drest,
A teeming Sow had made her peaceful Nest.
(Thus Palaces are cramm'd from Roof to Ground,
And Animals, as various, in them found.)
When to the Sow, who no Misfortune fear'd,
Puss with her fawning Compliments appear'd,
Rejoicing much at her Deliv'ry past,
And that she 'scap'd so well, who bred so fast.
Then every little Piglin she commends,
And likens them to all their swinish Friends;
Bestows good Wishes, but with Sighs implies,
That some dark Fears do in her Bosom rise.
Such Tempting Flesh, she cries, will Eagles spare?
Methinks, good Neighbour, you should live in Care:
Since I, who bring not forth such dainty Bits,
Tremble for my unpalatable Chits;
And had I but foreseen, the Eagle's Bed
Was in this fatal Tree to have been spread;
I sooner wou'd have kitten'd in the Road,
Than made this Place of Danger my abode.
I heard her young Ones lately cry for Pig,
And pity'd you, that were so near, and big.
In Friendship this I secretly reveal,
Lest Pettitoes shou'd make th' ensuing Meal;
Or else, perhaps, Yourself may be their aim,
For a Sow's Paps has been a Dish of Fame.
No more the sad, affrighted Mother hears,
But overturning all with boist'rous Fears,
She from her helpless Young in haste departs,
Whilst Puss ascends, to practice farther Arts.
The Anti-chamber pass'd, she scratch'd the Door;
The Eagle, ne'er alarum'd so before,
Bids her come in, and look the Cause be great,
That makes her thus disturb the Royal Seat;
Nor think, of Mice and Rats some pest'ring Tale
Shall, in excuse of Insolence, prevail.
Alas! my Gracious Lady, quoth the Cat,
I think not of such Vermin; Mouse, or Rat
To me are tasteless grown; nor dare I stir
To use my Phangs, or to expose my Fur.
A Foe intestine threatens all around,
And ev'n this lofty Structure will confound;
A Pestilential Sow, a meazel'd Pork
On the Foundation has been long at work,
Help'd by a Rabble, issu'd from her Womb,
Which she has foster'd in that lower Room;
Who now for Acorns are so madly bent,
That soon this Tree must fall, for their Content.
I wou'd have fetch'd some for th' unruly Elves;
But 'tis the Mob's delight to help Themselves:
Whilst your high Brood must with the meanest drop,
And steeper be their Fall, as next the Top;
Unless you soon to Jupiter repair,
And let him know, the Case demands his Care.

Oh! May the Trunk but stand, 'till you come back!
But hark! already sure, I hear it crack.
Away, away---The Eagle, all agast,
Soars to the Sky, nor falters in her haste:
Whilst crafty Puss, now o'er the Eyry reigns,
Replenishing her Maw with treach'rous Gains.
The Sow she plunders next, and lives alone;
The Pigs, the Eaglets, and the House her own.

Curs'd Sycophants! How wretched is the Fate
Of those, who know you not, till 'tis too late!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Anne Kingsmill Finch

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (née Kingsmill), was an English poet and courtier. Finch's works often express a desire for respect as a female poet, lamenting her difficult position as a woman in the literary establishment and the court, while writing of "political ideology, religious orientation, and aesthetic sensibility". Her works also allude to other female authors of the time, such as Aphra Behn and Katherine Phillips. Through her commentary on the mental and spiritual equality of the genders and the importance of women fulfilling their potential as a moral duty to themselves and to society, she is regarded as one of the integral female poets of the Restoration Era. Finch died in Westminster in 1720 and was buried at her home at Eastwell, Kent.  more…

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