by William Cowper
In painted plumes superbly dress'd,
A native of the gorgeous east,
By many a billow toss'd;
Poll gains at length the British shore,
Part of the captain's precious store,
A present to his toast.
Belinda's maids are soon preferr'd,
To teach him now then a word,
As Poll can master it;
But 'tis her own important charge,
To qualify him more at large,
And make him quite a wit.
Sweet Poll! his doting mistress cries,
Sweet Poll! the mimic bird replies,
And calls aloud for sack.
She next instructs him in the kiss;
'Tis now a little one, like Miss,
And now a hearty smack.
At first he aims at what he hears;
And, listening close with both his ears,
Just catches at the sound;
But soon articulate aloud,
Much to the amusement of the crowd,
And stuns the neighbors round.
A querulous old woman's voice
His humorous talent next employs,
He scolds, and gives the lie,
And now he sings, and now is sick,
Here, Sally, Susan, come, come quick,
Poor Poll is like to die!
Belinda and her bird! 'tis rare
To meet with such a well match'd pair,
The language and the tone,
Each character in every part
Sustain'd with so much grace and art,
And both in unison.
When children first begin to spell,
And stammer out a syllable,
We think them tedious creatures;
But difficulties soon abate,
When birds are to be taught to prate,
And women are the teachers.
Last updated January 14, 2019