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ESPRONCEDA, José de


The Beggar

The world is mine; I am free as air;

Let others work that I may eat;

All shall melt at my piteous prayer:--

"An alms, for God's sake, I entreat.

The cabin, the palace,

Are my resort;

If the threat of the thunder

Shall break from the mountain,

Or the torrent's quick fountain

Shall drive me under,

Within their shelter

The shepherds make place,

Lovingly asking me

Food to grace;

Or by the rich hearthstone

I take my ease

Fanned by the odors

Of burning trees;

With the luscious banquet

And cushioned store,

Upon the couch

Of some proud señor.

And I say to myself:--

"Let the breezes blow

And the tempest rage

In the world without:

Let the branches crack

Where the high winds go,

As I slumber with nothing to trouble about.

The world is mine; I am free as air!"

All are my patrons,

And for all I ask

My God as I daily pray;

From peasant and noble

I get my pay,

And I take their favors

Both great and small.

I never ask them

Who they be,

Nor stop to task them

With thanks for fee.

If they desire

To give me alms,

'Tis but their duty

To tip my palms.

Their wealth is sinful

They must see;

And a holy state

Is my poverty,

And he is a miser

Who would deny

An alms, and a beggar

Blest am I.

For I am poor and they grieve to note

How I groan beneath my pain;

They never see that their wealth is a mine

Where I my treasures gain.

The world is mine; I am free as air!

A rebel and a discontent

Amid my rags am I;

To satirise their ease I'm sent

And with a sour-set eye

I boldly stare at the potentate

Who dares to pass me in his state.

The lovely maid

Of a thousand scents

In her joy arrayed

With her love-locks blent--

'Tis she I follow

Till she turns around,

And my evil smells

Her sense astound.

At the feasts and spreads

My voice is heard

And they bow their heads

At my merest word.

Their joy and revel

I come to stay,

At the sight of my rags

And my voice's brags

Their music dies away.

Showing how near

Dwell pain and joy;

No joy without tear

No pain sans glad alloy.

The world is mine; I am free as air!

For me no morrow

Nor yesterday;

I forget the sorrow

And the welladay.

There's nought to trouble

Or weary me here,--

It's a palace tomorrow

Or a hospital's cheer.

I live a stranger

To thoughts of care;

Let others seek glory

Or riches rare!

My one concern

Is to pass today;

Let the laws prevail

Where the monarchs sway!

For I am a beggar

And a poor man proud;

'Tis through fear of me

There are alms allowed.

A soft asylum

Where'er it be,

And a hospital bed

Will be ready for me;

And a cosy ditch

Where my bones shall lie

Will cover me over

When I die.

The world is mine; I am free as air;

Let others work that I may eat!

All hearts must melt at my piteous prayer:--

An alms, for God's sake, I entreat!"

--Translated by Thomas Walsh