Country Squire and the Mandrake

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The Country Squire and the Mandrake. Fable XIV  (1755) 
by Christopher Smart
From Fables.

The COUNTRY SQUIRE and the

MANDRAKE.


FABLE VII.


The sun had rais'd above the mead,
His glorious horizontal head;
Sad Philomela left her thorn;
The lively linnets hymn'd the morn,
5And nature, like a waking bride,
Her blushes spread on ev'ry side;
The cock as usual crow'd up Tray,
Who nightly with his master lay;
The faithful spaniel gave the word,
10Trelooby[1] at the signal stirr'd,
And with his gun, from wood to wood
The man of prey his course pursu'd;
The dew and herbage all around,
Like pearls and emeralds on the ground;
15Th'uncultur'd flowers that rudely rise,
Where smiling freedom art defies;
The lark, in transport, tow'ring high,
The crimson curtains of the sky,
Affected[2] not Trelooby's mind—
20For what is beauty to the blind?
Th'amorous voice of silvan love,
Form'd charming concerts in the grove;
Sweet zephyr sigh'd on Flora's breast,
And drew the black-bird from his nest;
25 Whistling he leapt from leaf to leaf;
But what is music to the deaf?

      At length while poring on the ground,
With monumental look profound,
A curious vegetable caught
30His—something similar to thought:
Wond'ring, he ponder'd, stooping low,
(Trelooby always lov'd a show)
And on the Mandrake's vernal station,
Star'd with prodigious observation.
35Th'affronted Mandrake with a frown,
Address'd in rage the wealthy clown.

      "Proud member of the rambling race,
That vegetate from place to place,
Pursue the leveret at large,
40Nor near thy blunderbuss discharge.
Disdainful tho' thou look'st on me,
What art thou, or what can'st thou be?
Nature, that mark'd thee as a fool,
Gave no materials for the school.
45In what consists thy work and fame?
The preservation of the Game.—
For what? thou avaricious elf,
But to destroy it all thyself;
To lead a life of drink and feast,
50T'oppress the poor, and cheat the priest,
Or triumph in a virgin lost,
Is all the manhood thou canst boast.—
Pretty, in nature's various plan,
To see a weed that's like a man;
55But 'tis a grievous thing indeed.
To see a man so like a weed."


1755


Notes

First published in The Gentleman's Magazine (Apr. 1755). Reprinted 1791.

  1. Trelooby: the character from a farce Squire Treloby by Vanbrugh, Congreve and others.
  2. 19.Affected (Text 1755); Afflicted (Text 1791) instead is regarded as a mistake.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.