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John Gay (1685-1732)

English poet and dramatist

Fools may our scorn, not envy raise,
For envy is a kind of praise.

JOHN GAY, Fables

Praising all alike, is praising none.

JOHN GAY, Epistle to a Lady

The comfortable estate of widowhood is the only hope that keeps up a wife's spirits.

JOHN GAY, The Beggar's Opera

If the heart of man is deprest with cares,
The mist is dispell'd when a woman appears.

JOHN GAY, The Beggar's Opera

He best can pity who has felt the woe.


Youth's the season made for joys,
Love is then our duty.

JOHN GAY, The Beggar's Opera

She who has never lov'd, has never liv'd.

JOHN GAY, The Captives

An open foe may prove a curse,
But a pretended friend is worse.

JOHN GAY, Fables

Variety's the source of joy below,
From whence still fresh-revolving pleasures flow,
In books and love the mind one end pursues,
And only change the expiring flames renews.

JOHN GAY, "On a Miscellany of Poems to Bernard Lintot, the Bookseller", The Poems of John Gay

No retreat. No retreat. They must conquer or die who've no retreat.

JOHN GAY, "We've Cheated the Parson", Polly: an Opera

And though you duck them ne'er so long,
Not one salt drop e'er wets their tongue;
'Tis hence they scandal have at will,
And that this member ne'er lies still.

JOHN GAY, The Mad Dog

I hate the man who builds his name
On ruins of another's fame.
Thus prudes, by characters o'erthrown,
Imagine that they raise their own.
Thus Scribblers, covetous of praise,
Think slander can transplant the bays.

JOHN GAY, "The Poet and the Rose", Fables

Long open panegyric drags at best,
And praise is only praise when well address'd.

JOHN GAY, Epistle I

Nor watch the wasting of the midnight oil.

JOHN GAY, Fables

Brother, brother; we are both in the wrong.

JOHN GAY, Beggar's Opera

A play without a ghost is like; is like--i'gad it is like nothing.

JOHN GAY, The What D'ye Call It

Give me, kind Heaven, a private station,
A mind serene for contemplation:
Title and profit I resign:
The post of honor shall be mine.

JOHN GAY, Fables

Nor love, nor honour, wealth nor pow'r,
Can give the heart a cheerful hour
When health is lost. Be timely wise;
With health all taste of pleasure flies.

JOHN GAY, Fables

Even butchers weep!

JOHN GAY, The Beggar's Opera

Woman's mind
Oft' shifts her passions, like th'inconstant wind;
Sudden she rages, like the troubled main,
Now sinks the storm, and all is calm again.


Who takes a woman must be undone,
That basilisk is sure to kill.
The fly that sips treacle is lost in the sweets,
So he that tastes woman, woman, woman,
He that tastes woman, ruin meets.

JOHN GAY, The Beggar's Opera

O ROVING Muse! recall that wondrous year
When winter reigned in bleak Britannia's air;
When hoary Thames, with frosted osiers crowned,
Was three long moons in icy fetters bound.
The waterman, forlorn, along the shore,
Pensive reclines upon his useless oar:
See harnessed steeds desert the stony town,
And wander roads unstable not their own:
Wheels o'er the hardened water smoothly glide,
And raze with whitened tracks the slippery tide;
Here the fat cook piles high the blazing fire,
And scarce the spit can turn the steer entire;
Booths sudden hide the Thames, long streets appear,
And numerous games proclaim the crowded fair.
So, when the general bids the martial train
Spread their encampment o'er the spacious plain,
Thick-rising tents a canvas city build,
And the loud dice resound through all the field.

JOHN GAY, "The Frozen River"

John Gay Poems - a collection of his poetry.

John Gay Bibliography - a bibliography, including list of critical resources.


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