The Elephant.

A poem by William Hayley

Say, nature, on whose wond'rous reign
Delighted fancy dwells,
Of all thy numerous brutal train
What animal excells?

What quadruped most nobly vies
In virtue with mankind,
Like man deliberately wise,
And resolutely kind?

Beneath a form vast and uncouth
Such excellence is found:
Sagacious Elephant! thy truth,
Thy kindness is renown'd.

More mild than sanguinary man,
Whose servant thou hast prov'd,
Oft in his frantic battle's van
Thy bulk has stood unmoved:

There oft thy spirit griev'd, to see
His murd'rous rage encrease,
'Till mad himself, he madden'd thee.
Thou nobler friend to peace!

Acts of thy courage might occur
To grace heroic song;
But I thy gentle deeds prefer,
Thou strongest of the strong!

Where India serves the British throne,
In scenes no longer wild,
A menial Elephant was known,
Most singularly mild!

It was his custom, fresh and gay
By his attendant led,
Walking to water, every day,
To pass a gard'ner's shed,

This gard'ner, of good natured fame,
Admir'd the noble beast;
And gave him, whensoe'er he came,
A vegetable feast.

Some dainty, from his stall bestow'd,
So made the beast his friend;
'Twas joy to see, at this abode,
His blythe proboscis bend.

Not coarsely eager for his food,
He seem'd his love to court,
And oft delighted, as he stood.
To yield his children sport.

As if to thank them for each gift,
With tender, touching care,
The boys he to his back would lift,
And still caress them there.

In short his placid gambols seem'd
Affection so profound,
His friendship for this man was deem'd
A wonder all around.

But O! can humour's giddy range
Mislead the brutal mind?
Can elephants their friendship change,
As fickle as mankind?

See now the hero of my song,
That theme of every tongue!
Alone, and fierce, he stalks along,
As if with frenzy stung:

See! to the gard'ner's well-known shed
Impetuous he flies;
Seizes his friend in silent dread,
And lifts him to the skies.

High as his trunk the man can bear,
Th' astonish'd man he bore,
Who vainly struggled in the air,
And trembled more and more.

So wild, so swift, the monster past,
All deem'd him mad and fled.--
Thro' a high window gently cast,
With terror almost dead,

The astounded gard'ner view'd with awe
The savage speed away;
But soon with gratitude he saw
The source of his dismay:

Unthought of source! for now inflam'd
A ravenous tyger sprung,
And at the window vainly aim'd
To which he trembling clung.

And now with joy his heart strings swell,
And blest he deems his lot;
For the foil'd tyger as he fell,
A latent marksman shot.

The Elephant returns:--O Heaven!
How tender was his air,
Seeing the friend, whose life was given
To his preserving care!

For, conscious of the danger, he,
Most providently kind,
From unseen ill to set him free,
Such rescue had designed.

Ye, whom a friend's dark perils pain,
When terrors most unnerve him,
Learn from this Elephant to strain
Your sinews to preserve him.

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