“Sonnet, on the Inhabitants of LONDON”
In London scarce a bird but may be found:
The sun-ey’d eagle borne on lofty wing,
Linnets that adulate the smile of Spring,
And ravens croaking with portentous sound:
Owls wrapt in dulness, crows tow’rd carrion bound, 5
Parrots whose squalling notes incessant ring,
Swallows that dare to chatter near a King,
And gabbling geese nice students wish were drown’d:
Mud-haunting ducks that dabble in the street,
Fine birds of paradise with little feet, 10
Peacocks that spread a gaudy-painted fan;
Grain-raking poultry, enemies to flow’rs,
The stork imperious that all things devours,
A phoenix there would be an honest man.
3 Linnets A type of finch known for its pleasant song with quick trills and tweets; adulate “To flatter in an obsequious or sycophantic manner, to fawn on” (OED).
4 portentous “Ominous, threatening” (OED).
10 birds of paradise A family of birds found throughout the islands of New Guinea which are recognizable by the males’ highly elaborate plumage.
13 imperious “Exercising a commanding influence; ruling, sovereign, dominant” (OED).
14 Phoenix A bird in Greek mythology that was characteristically long lived and went through cycles of death and rebirth from its ashes. Also an early symbol of Christianity.
Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (July, 1777), p. 345.
Edited by Tyler Greer