'Fable L: The Hare and Many Friends' by John Gay

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1Friendship, like love, is but a name,
2Unless to one you stint the flame.
3The child, whom many fathers share,
4Hath seldom known a father's care;
5'Tis thus in friendships; who depend
6On many, rarely find a friend.

7A hare, who, in a civil way,
8Complied with ev'ry thing, like Gay,
9Was known by all the bestial train,
10Who haunt the wood, or graze the plain:
11Her care was, never to offend,
12And ev'ry creature was her friend.

13As forth she went at early dawn
14To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
15Behind she hears the hunter's cries,
16And from the deep-mouth'd thunder flies;
17She starts, she stops, she pants for breath,
18She hears the near advance of death,
19She doubles, to mis-lead the hound,
20And measures back her mazy round;
21'Till, fainting in the public way,
22Half dead with fear she gasping lay.

23What transport in her bosom grew,
24When first the horse appear'd in view!

25"Let me," says she, "your back ascend,
26And owe my safety to a friend,
27You know my feet betray my flight,
28To friendship ev'ry burthen's light."

29The horse replied, "Poor honest puss,
30It grieves my heart to see thee thus;
31Be comforted, relief is near;
32For all your friends are in the rear."

33She next the stately bull implor'd;
34And thus reply'd the mighty lord.
35"Since ev'ry beast alive can tell
36That I sincerely wish you well,
37I may, without offence, pretend
38To take the freedom of a friend;
39Love calls me hence; a fav'rite cow
40Expects me near yon barley mow:
41And when a lady's in the case,
42You know, all other things give place.
43To leave you thus might seem unkind;
44But see, the goat is just behind."

45The goat remark'd her pulse was high,
46Her languid head, her heavy eye;
47"My back," says he, "may do you harm;
48The sheep's at hand, and wool is warm."

49The sheep was feeble, and complain'd,
50His sides a load of wool sustain'd,
51Said he was slow, confess'd his fears;
52For hounds eat sheep as well as hares.

53She now the trotting calf addrest,
54To save from death a friend distrest.

55"Shall I, says he, of tender age,
56In this important care engage?
57Older and abler pass'd you by;
58How strong are those! how weak am I!
59Should I presume to bear you hence,
60Those friends of mine may take offence.
61Excuse me then. You know my heart,
62But dearest friends, alas, must part!
63How shall we all lament! Adieu.
64For see the hounds are just in view."

Editor 1 Interpretation

Fable L: The Hare and Many Friends by John Gay

Have you ever heard the story of the hare and the tortoise? Well, this fable by John Gay, titled "The Hare and Many Friends," is quite similar in essence. However, Gay's version offers a unique twist that sets it apart from the familiar tale we know and love.

At its core, "The Hare and Many Friends" is a cautionary tale about the perils of arrogance and the importance of true friendship. The story follows a hare who prides himself on his speed and agility. One day, the hare's ego gets the best of him, and he brags about his abilities to a group of animals in the forest. The hare's boastful attitude and lack of humility ultimately lead to his downfall when he is captured by a group of hounds.

What makes Gay's fable so compelling is the way in which he uses the hare's character to explore deeper themes of human nature. Through the hare's arrogance and eventual downfall, Gay draws attention to the dangers of overconfidence and the importance of remaining humble. Additionally, the hare's reliance on his own abilities and lack of trust in others highlights the value of true friendship and the power of community.

One of the most interesting aspects of "The Hare and Many Friends" is the way in which Gay uses animal characters to convey human emotions and behaviors. The hare, for example, represents the human tendency towards arrogance and overconfidence, while the other forest animals serve as symbols of friendship and community.

At the beginning of the fable, we see the hare interacting with a variety of animals in the forest, including a partridge, a magpie, and a jackdaw. These characters, while not central to the story, serve to highlight the hare's arrogance and lack of humility. The hare boasts about his speed and agility to these animals, and they are clearly unimpressed. Despite their lack of interest in the hare's abilities, he continues to brag and boast, showing his disregard for their opinions and feelings.

As the story progresses, the hare's arrogance becomes more and more pronounced. He begins to believe that he is invincible and can outrun any predator in the forest. This sense of overconfidence ultimately leads to his downfall when he is captured by a group of hounds.

However, it is not just the hare's arrogance that leads to his downfall. It is also his lack of trust in others and his unwillingness to work together as a community. When the hare is being chased by the hounds, he passes by a number of other animals in the forest, including a badger, a fox, and a squirrel. Despite the fact that these animals are willing to help the hare and defend him against the hounds, the hare refuses their assistance, believing that he can outrun the hounds on his own.

This refusal to work together ultimately leads to the hare's capture, as he is unable to outrun the hounds on his own. The other animals in the forest, who were willing to help the hare, are left to mourn his loss, realizing too late the importance of true friendship and community.

Overall, "The Hare and Many Friends" is a powerful fable that explores important themes of human nature and the dangers of arrogance and overconfidence. Through the character of the hare, John Gay presents a cautionary tale that reminds us of the importance of humility and true friendship. Additionally, the use of animal characters adds a layer of depth to the story, highlighting the ways in which human emotions and behaviors can be conveyed through the actions of animals.

In conclusion, "The Hare and Many Friends" is a classic fable that continues to resonate with readers today. Its timeless message serves as a reminder of the importance of humility, trust, and community, and its use of animal characters adds a unique and memorable element to the story. If you haven't read this fable before, I highly recommend it for its thought-provoking themes and engaging storytelling.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Hare and Many Friends: A Timeless Fable of Friendship and Betrayal

Fables have been a part of human storytelling for centuries, and one of the most well-known and beloved fables is "The Hare and Many Friends" by John Gay. This classic poem tells the story of a hare who, after boasting about his speed and agility, finds himself in trouble and turns to his friends for help. But as the fable unfolds, we see that not all friends are created equal, and that sometimes even the closest bonds can be broken by greed and selfishness.

The poem begins with the hare, who is feeling quite proud of himself and his abilities. He boasts to all who will listen about how fast he can run and how easily he can escape from danger. But as he is running through the fields one day, he is suddenly caught by a pack of hounds. In his panic, he realizes that he has no one to turn to for help.

This is where the theme of friendship comes into play. The hare begins to think about all the animals he has met in his travels and wonders if any of them would be willing to help him. He thinks of the horse, who is strong and fast, but realizes that the horse would never help a hare. He thinks of the ox, who is slow but powerful, but realizes that the ox would never help a hare either. He thinks of the sheep, who is gentle and kind, but realizes that the sheep would be too afraid to help.

Finally, the hare remembers the many friends he has made along the way, and he decides to call out to them for help. He calls to the rat, the crow, the frog, and the tortoise, and they all come running to his aid. They surround the hounds and distract them, allowing the hare to escape.

At first, it seems like the hare has found true friends in these animals. They all celebrate his escape and congratulate him on his quick thinking. But as the poem continues, we see that not all is as it seems. The hare begins to notice that his friends are acting strangely. They are whispering to each other and looking at him with greedy eyes.

It turns out that the hare's friends are not as selfless as he thought. They are all hoping to get something out of their friendship with him. The rat wants to be his advisor, the crow wants to be his messenger, the frog wants to be his confidante, and the tortoise wants to be his counselor. They all want to be close to the hare so that they can benefit from his fame and fortune.

The hare is shocked and hurt by this betrayal. He had thought that his friends were true friends, but now he sees that they were only using him for their own purposes. He realizes that he should have been more careful in choosing his friends and that he should have been more aware of their motives.

In the end, the hare decides to distance himself from his so-called friends. He realizes that true friendship is based on trust, loyalty, and mutual respect, and that these qualities were lacking in his relationships with the rat, the crow, the frog, and the tortoise. He learns a valuable lesson about the importance of choosing friends wisely and being aware of their true motives.

"The Hare and Many Friends" is a timeless fable that speaks to the human experience of friendship and betrayal. It reminds us that not all friends are created equal, and that sometimes even the closest bonds can be broken by greed and selfishness. It also reminds us that true friendship is based on trust, loyalty, and mutual respect, and that we should be careful in choosing our friends and aware of their true motives.

John Gay's poem is a masterpiece of storytelling and poetry. His use of animal characters and simple language makes the fable accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. The poem's themes of friendship, betrayal, and morality are universal and timeless, and they continue to resonate with readers today.

In conclusion, "The Hare and Many Friends" is a classic fable that has stood the test of time. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of choosing friends wisely and being aware of their true motives. It is a story that speaks to the human experience of friendship and betrayal, and it is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and poetry.

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