Jonathan Swift

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Portrait of Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an English satirical writer. Born in Dublin to English parents, he moved to England in 1688 to become secretary to Sir William Temple. He took Anglican holy orders but did not obtain promotion.

His Tale of the Tub and The Battle of the Books were both published in 1704. At first he was interested in Whig politics but he became a Tory in 1710 and proceeded to write powerful tracts such as Conduct of the Allies (1711). In 1714 he returned to Ireland as Dean of St. Patrick's and was followed by his devoted female friends Hester Johnson (the Stella of his Journal) and Esther Vanhomrigh (the Vanessa of his poetry).

In Dublin he wrote some of his best and most famous works, including Gulliver's Travels (1726), A Modest Proposal (1729) and the Drapier's Letters (1724-5). Authorship of his works is sometimes assigned to his professional title of Dean Swift.


A humorous poem by Jonathan Swift:

Beasts find out where their talents lie;

A bear will not attempt to fly.
The foundered horse will oft debate,
Before he tries a five-barred gate
The dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide.
But Man we find the only creature,
Who led by folly, fights with Nature.
Who, when She loudly cries "forbear"
With obstinacy fixes there, and
Where his instincts least incline,
Absurdly sets his whole design.

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