The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose

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Fable XI

In beauty faults conspicuous grow;
The smallest speck is seen on snow.
   As near a barn, by hunger led,
A peacock with the poultry fed;
All viewed him with an envious eye,
And mocked his gaudy pageantry.
He, conscious of superior merit,
Contemns their base reviling spirit;
His state and dignity assumes,
And to the sun displays his plumes;

Which, like the heaven's o'er-arching skies,
Are spangled with a thousand eyes.
The circling rays, and varied light,
At once confound their dazzled sight:
On every tongue detraction burns,
And malice prompts their spleen by turns.
   'Mark, with what insolence and pride
The creature takes his haughty stride!'
The turkey cries. 'Can spleen contain?
Sure never bird was half so vain!

But were intrinsic merit seen,
We turkeys have the whiter skin.'
   From tongue to tongue they caught abuse;
And next was heard the hissing goose:
'What hideous legs! what filthy claws!
I scorn to censure little flaws!
Then what a horrid squalling throat!
Even owls are frighted at the note.'
   'True; those are faults,' the peacock cries;
'My scream, my shanks you may despise:

But such blind critics rail in vain:
What, overlook my radiant train!
Know, did my legs (your scorn and sport)
The turkey or the goose support,
And did ye scream with harsher sound,
Those faults in you had ne'er been found!
To all apparent beauties blind,
Each blemish strikes an envious mind.'
   Thus in assemblies have I seen
A nymph of brightest charms and mien,

Wake envy in each ugly face;
And buzzing scandal fills the place.



The Fables, Volume 1 (1727)
Introduction The Shepard and the Philosopher
Fable I The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller
Fable II The Spaniel and the Cameleon
Fable III The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy
Fable IV The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals
Fable V The wild Boar and the Ram
Fable VI The Miser and Plutus
Fable VII The Lion, the Fox, and the Geese
Fable VIII The Lady and the Wasp
Fable IX The Bull and the Mastiff
Fable X The Elephant and the Bookseller
Fable XI The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose
Fable XII Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus
Fable XIII The Tame Stag
Fable XIV The Monkey who had seen the World
Fable XV The Philosopher and the Pheasants
Fable XVI The Pin and the Needle
Fable XVII The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf
Fable XVIII The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody
Fable XIX The Lion and the Cub
Fable XX The Old Hen and the Cock
Fable XXI The Rat-catcher and Cats
Fable XXII The Goat without a Beard
Fable XXIII The Old Woman and her Cats
Fable XXIV The Butterfly and the Snail
Fable XXV The Scold and the Parrot
Fable XXVI The Cur and the Mastiff
Fable XXVII The Sick Man and the Angel
Fable XXVIII The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud
Fable XXIX The Fox at the point of Death
Fable XXX The Setting-dog and the Partridge
Fable XXXI The Universal Apparition
Fable XXXII The Two Owls and the Sparrow
Fable XXXIII The Courtier and Proteus
Fable XXXIV The Mastiffs
Fable XXXV The Barley-mow and the Dunghill
Fable XXXVI Pythagoras and the Countryman
Fable XXXVII The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
Fable XXXVIII The Turkey and the Ant
Fable XXXIX The Father and Jupiter
Fable XL The Two Monkeys
Fable XLI The Owl and the Farmer
Fable XLII The Jugglers
Fable XLIII The Council of Horses
Fable XLIV The Hound and the Huntsman
Fable XLV The Poet and the Rose
Fable XLVI The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog
Fable XLVII The Court of Death
Fable XLVIII The Gardener and the Hog
Fable XLIX The Man and the Flea
Fable L The Hare and many Friends
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