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CLOSE / Parnassiad


Peace and Other Stories


Fragments of a Formerly Active Sex Life



The Fable of the Bitches
by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  30 Nov 2007

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1715, ON AN ATTEMPT TO REPEAL THE TEST ACT

A bitch, that was full pregnant grown
By all the dogs and curs in town,
Finding her ripen'd time was come,
Her litter teeming from her womb,
Went here, and there, and everywhere,
To find an easy place to lay her.
  At length to Music's house [the Church of England] she came,
And begg'd like one both blind and lame;
"My only friend, my dear," said she,
"You see 'tis mere necessity
Hath sent me to your house to whelp:
I die if you refuse your help."
  With fawning whine, and rueful tone,
With artful sigh, and feigned groan,
With couchant cringe, and flattering tale,
Smooth Bawty [a Scotch term for bitch] did so far prevail,
That Music gave her leave to litter;
(But mark what follow'd--faith! she bit her;)
Whole baskets full of bits and scraps,
And broth enough to fill her paps;
For well she knew, her numerous brood,
For want of milk, would suck her blood.
  But when she thought her pains were done,
And now 'twas high time to be gone,
In civil terms, "My friend," said she,
"My house you've had on courtesy;
And now I earnestly desire,
That you would with your cubs retire;
For, should you stay but one week longer,
I shall be starved with cold and hunger."
The guest replied--"My friend, your leave
I must a little longer crave;
Stay till my tender cubs can find
Their way--for now, you see, they're blind;
But, when we've gather'd strength, I swear,
We'll to our barn again repair."
  The time pass'd on; and Music came
Her kennel once again to claim,
But Bawty, lost to shame and honour,
Set all her cubs at once upon her;
Made her retire, and quit her right,
And loudly cried--"A bite! bite!"

THE MORAL

Thus did the Grecian wooden horse
Conceal a fatal armed force:
No sooner brought within the walls,
But Ilium's lost, and Priam falls.

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