Elegy VI: On the Death of His Mistress's Parrot. By Creech.Alas! poor Poll, my Indian talker, dies!
Go, birds, and celebrate his obsequies;
Go, birds, and beat your breasts, your faces tear,
And pluck your gaudy plumes instead of hair;
Let doleful tunes the frighted forest wound,
And your sad notes supply the trumpet's sound.
Why, Philomel, dost mourn the Thracian rage?
It is enough, thy grief at last assuage;
His crimson faults are now grown white with age.
Now mourn this bird; the cause of all thy woe
Was great, 'tis true, but it was long ago.
Mourn, all ye wing'd inhabitants of air,
But you, my turtle, take the greatest share;
You too liv'd constant friends and free from strife
Your kindness was entire, and long as life:
What Pylades to his Orestes vow'd.
To thee, poor Poll, thy friendly turtle show'd,
And kept his love as long as fate allow'd.
But, ah! what did thy faith, thy plumes, and tail,
And what thy pretty speaking art, avail?
And what that thou wert giv'n, and pleas'd my miss,
Since now the bird's unhappy glory dies ?
A lovely verdant green grac'd ev'ry quill,
The deepest vivid red did paint thy bill;
In speaking thou didst ev'ry bird excel,
None prattled, and none lisp'd the words so well.
'Twas envy only sent this fierce disease;
Thou wert averse to war, and liv'dst in peace,
A talking harmless thing, and lov'dst thine ease.
The fighting quails still live 'midst all their strife,
And even that, perhaps, prolongs their life.
Thy meat was little, and thy prattling tongue
Would ne'er permit to make thy dinner long:
Plain fountain water all thy drink allow'd,
And nut and poppy-seed were all thy food.
The preying vultures and the kites remain,
And the unlucky crow still caws for rain;
The chough still lives 'midst fierce Minerva's hate,
And scarce nine hundred years conclude her fate;
But my poor Poll now hangs his sickly head,
My Poll, my present from the east, is dead.
Best things are sooner snatch'd by cov'tous fate,
To worse she freely gives a longer date;
Thersites brave Achilles' fate surviv'd,
And Hector fell, whilst all his brothers liv'd.
Why should I tell what vows Corinna made?
How oft she begg'd thy life, how oft she pray'd ?
The seventh day came, and now the Fates begin
To end the thread, they had no more to spin;
Yet still he talk'd, and when death nearer drew,
His last breath said, "Corinna, now adieu!"
There is a shady cypress grove below,
And thither (if such doubtful things we know)
The ghosts of pious birds departed go;
'Tis water'd well, and verdant all the year,
And birds obscene do never enter there;
There harmless swans securely take their rest,
And there the single Phoenix builds her nest;
Proud peacocks there display their gaudy train,
And billing turtles coo o'er all the plain:
To these dark shades my parrot's soul shall go,
And with his talk divert the birds below;
Whilst here his bones enjoy a noble grave,
A little marble, and an epitaph:-
"In talking I did ev'ry bird excel,
And my tomb proves my mistress lov'd me well."