by Jonathan Swift
The Scottish hinds, too poor to house
In frosty nights their starving cows,
While not a blade of grass or hay
Appears from Michaelmas to May,
Must let their cattle range in vain
For food along the barren plain:
Meagre and lank with fasting grown,
And nothing left but skin and bone;
Exposed to want, and wind, and weather,
They just keep life and soul together,
Till summer showers and evening's dew
Again the verdant glebe renew;
And, as the vegetables rise,
The famish'd cow her want supplies;
Without an ounce of last year's flesh;
Whate'er she gains is young and fresh;
Grows plump and round, and full of mettle,
As rising from Medea's kettle.
With youth and beauty to enchant
Europa's counterfeit gallant.
Why, Stella, should you knit your brow,
If I compare you to a cow?
'Tis just the case; for you have fasted
So long, till all your flesh is wasted;
And must against the warmer days
Be sent to Quilca down to graze;
Where mirth, and exercise, and air,
Will soon your appetite repair:
The nutriment will from within,
Round all your body, plump your skin;
Will agitate the lazy flood,
And fill your veins with sprightly blood.
Nor flesh nor blood will be the same
Nor aught of Stella but the name:
For what was ever understood,
By human kind, but flesh and blood?
And if your flesh and blood be new,
You'll be no more the former you;
But for a blooming nymph will pass,
Just fifteen, coming summer's grass,
Your jetty locks with garlands crown'd:
While all the squires for nine miles round,
Attended by a brace of curs,
With jockey boots and silver spurs,
No less than justices o' quorum,
Their cow-boys bearing cloaks before 'em,
Shall leave deciding broken pates,
To kiss your steps at Quilca gates.
But, lest you should my skill disgrace,
Come back before you're out of case;
For if to Michaelmas you stay,
The new-born flesh will melt away;
The 'squires in scorn will fly the house
For better game, and look for grouse;
But here, before the frost can mar it,
We'll make it firm with beef and claret.
Last updated July 21, 2017