Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > German
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XII: German
 
Epigrams
By Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781)
 
YOUNG Stirps as any lord is proud,
Vain, haughty, insolent, and loud;
Games, drinks, and in the full career
Of vice compares with any peer;
Seduces daughters, wives, and mothers;        5
Spends his own cash, and that of others;
Pays like a lord—that is to say,
He never condescends to pay,
But bangs his creditor in requital.
And yet this blockhead wears a title.        10
 
From the grave where dead Gripeall, the miser, reposes,
What a villainous odor invades all our noses!
It can’t be his body alone—in the hole
They have certainly buried the usurer’s soul.
 
While Fell was reposing himself on the hay,        15
A reptile conceal’d bit his leg as he lay;
But all venom himself, of the wound he made light,
And got well, while the scorpion died of the bite.
 
So vile your grimace, and so croaking your speech,
  One scarcely can tell if you’re laughing or crying;        20
Were you fix’d on one’s funeral sermon to preach,
  The bare apprehension would keep one from dying.
 
How plain your little darling says “Mama,”
But still she calls you “Doctor,” not “Papa.”
One thing is clear: your conscientious rib        25
Has not yet taught the pretty dear to fib.
 
So slowly you walk, and so quickly you eat,
You should march with your mouth, and devour with your feet.
 
Quoth gallant Fritz, “I ran away
To fight again another day.”        30
The meaning of his speech is plain,
He only fled to fly again.
 
“How strange, a deaf wife to prefer!”
“True, but she’s also dumb, good sir.”
 
 
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