When in the River Cows for Coolness stand,
And Sheep for Breezes seek the lofty Land,
A Youth whom Æsop taught that ev'ry Tree
Each Bird and Insect spoke as well as he:
Walk'd calmly musing in a shaded Way
Where flow'ring Hawthorn broke the sunny Ray,
And thus instructs his Moral Pen to draw
A Scene that obvious in the Field he saw.
Near a low Ditch, where shallow Waters meet,
Which never learnt to glide with liquid Feet,
Whose Naiads never prattle as they play,
But screen'd with Hedges slumber out the Day,
There stands a slender Fern's aspiring Shade,
Whose answ'ring Branches regularly layd
Put forth their answ'ring Boughs, and proudly rise
Three Stories upward, in the nether Skies.
For Shelter here, to shun the Noon-day Heat,
An airy Nation of the Flies retreat;
Some in soft Air their silken Pinions ply,
And some from Bough to Bough delighted fly,
Some rise, and circling light to perch again;
A pleasing Murmur hums along the Plain.
So, when a Stage invites to pageant Shows,
(If great and small are like) appear the Beaus,
In Boxes some with spruce Pretension sit,
Some change from Seat to Seat within the Pit,
Some roam the Scenes, or turning cease to roam;
Preluding Musick fills the lofty Dome.
When thus a Fly (if what a Fly can say
Deserves attention) rais'd the rural Lay.
Where late Amintor made a Nymph a Bride,
Joyful I flew by young Favonia's side,
Who, mindless of the Feasting, went to sip
The balmy Pleasure of the Shepherd's Lip.
I saw the Wanton, where I stoop'd to sup,
And half resolv'd to drown me in the Cup;
'Till brush'd by careless Hands, she soar'd above:
Cease, Beauty, cease to vex a tender Love.
Thus ends the Youth, the buzzing Meadow rung,
And thus the Rival of his Musick sung.
When Suns by thousands shone in Orbs of Dew,
I wafted soft with Zephyretta flew;
Saw the clean Pail, and sought the milky Chear,
While little Daphne seiz'd my roving Dear.
Wretch that I was! I might have warn'd the Dame,
Yet sat indulging as the Danger came,
But the kind Huntress left her free to soar:
Ah! guard, ye Lovers, guard a Mistress more.
Thus from the Fern, whose high-projecting Arms,
The fleeting Nation bent with dusky Swarms,
The Swains their Love in easy Musick breathe,
When Tongues and Tumult stun the Field beneath.
Black Ants in Teams come darkning all the Road,
Some call to march, and some to lift the Load;
They strain, they labour with incessant Pains
Press'd by the cumbrous weight of single Grains.
The Flies struck silent gaze with Wonder down:
The busy Burghers reach their earthy Town;
Where lay the Burthens of a wint'ry Store,
And thence unwearied part in search of more.
Yet one grave Sage a Moment's space attends,
And the small City's loftiest Point ascends,
Wipes the salt Dew that trickles down his Face,
And thus harangues them with the gravest Grace.
Ye foolish Nurslings of the Summer Air,
These gentle Tunes and whining Songs forbear;
Your Trees and whisp'ring Breeze, your Grove and Love,
Your Cupids Quiver, and his Mother's Dove:
Let Bards to Business bend their vig'rous Wing,
And sing but seldom, if they love to sing:
Else, when the Flourets of the Season fail,
And this your Ferny Shade forsakes the Vale,
Tho' one would save ye, not one Grain of Wheat
Shou'd pay such Songsters idling at my Gate.
He ceas'd: The Flies, incorrigibly vain,
Heard the May'r's Speech, and fell to sing again.
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"The Flies. An Eclogue." Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/37077/the-flies.-an-eclogue.>.