Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
Beau’s Reply
By William Cowper (1731–1800)
SIR, when I flew to seize the bird
  In spite of your command,
A louder voice than yours I heard,
  And harder to withstand.
You cried ‘Forbear!’—but in my breast        5
  A mightier cried ‘Proceed!’—
’Twas Nature, sir, whose strong behest
  Impelled me to the deed.
Yet much as Nature I respect,
  I ventured once to break        10
(As you perhaps may recollect)
  Her precept for your sake;
And when your linnet on a day,
  Passing his prison door,
Had fluttered all his strength away,        15
  And panting pressed the floor,
Well knowing him a sacred thing,
  Not destined to my tooth,
I only kissed his ruffled wing,
  And licked the feathers smooth.        20
Let my obedience then excuse
  My disobedience now,
Nor some reproof yourself refuse
  From your aggrieved Bow-wow;
If killing birds be such a crime        25
  (Which I can hardly see),
What think you, sir, of killing Time
  With verse addressed to me?

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