William Cowper

26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire

The Love Of The World Reproved: Or, Hypocrisy Detected

Thus says the prophet of the Turk;
Good musselman, abstain from pork!
There is a part in every swine
No friend or follower of mine
May taste, whate'er his inclination,
On pain of excommunication.
Such Mahomet's mysterious charge,
And thus he left the point at large.
Had he the sinful part expressed,
They might with safety eat the rest;
But for one piece they thought it hard
And set their wit at work to find
What joint the prophet had in mind.

Much controversy straight arose,
These choose the back, the belly those;
By some 'tis confidently said
He meant not to forbid the head,
While others at that doctrine rail,
And piously prefer the tail.
Thus, conscience freed from every clog,
Mahometans eat up the hog.

You laugh! - 'tis well, - the tale applied
May make you laugh on t'other side.
Renounce the world, the preacher cries; -
We do, - a multitude replies,
While one as innocent regards
A snug and friendly game at cards;
And one, whatever you may say,
Can see no evil in a play;
Some love a concert or a race,
And others, shooting and the chase.
Reviled and loved, renounced and followed,
Thus bit by bit the world is swallowed;
Each thinks his neighbour makes too free,
Yet likes a slice as well as he,
With sophistry their sauce they sweeten,
Till quite from tail to snout 'tis eaten.
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