Saturday, May 13, 2006


A Modern Epitaph on a Dog

William Cowper's Epitaph on "Fop," a Dog Belonging to Lady Throckmorton, doesn't seem to be available elsewhere on the World Wide Web:
Though once a puppy, and though Fop by name,
Here moulders one whose bones some honour claim;
No sycophant, although of spaniel race,
And though no hound, a martyr to the chase.
Ye squirrels, rabbits, leverets, rejoice!
Your haunts no longer echo to his voice;
This record of his fate exulting view,
He died worn out with vain pursuit of you.
"Yes" -- the indignant shade of Fop replies --
"And worn with vain pursuit man also dies."
I guess it's a sign of my perspective on things, that I call a poem composed in August 1792 modern.

For a similar twist at the tail end of an epitaph on a dog, compare the final verses of John Gay's An Elegy on a Lap-dog:
He's dead. Oh lay him gently in the ground!
And may his tomb be by this verse renown'd.
Here Shock, the pride of all his kind, is laid;
Who fawn'd like man, but ne'er like man betray'd.

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