Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > Russian, Scandinavian, etc.
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XIV: Russian—Scandinavian—Miscellaneous
 
Beggars’ Song
Unknown Bohemian Author (15th Century)
 
UP, beggars! Be joyful, for joy is our own;
Our garments are tattered, and bald is our crown.
Beloved, want presses us; what shall we do?
Why, want is one wo, discontent would make two!
 
Let’s enter the inn, though we stay but a minute,        5
For the bottle looks mournful when nothing is in it;
Legs weary, bags empty, and what shall we do?
Why, bearing one burden, we need not make two!
 
On Friday we dine, from a halfpenny pot;
Sour broth, ragged bones, bread and water we’ve got.        10
And fish? To be sure—in the Danube, the sea,
Which are fresher and sweeter than caught fish can be.
 
Then Saturday comes—that’s perplexing and rude—
And Sunday, with hunger; but where is the food?
We sit at the table—poor devils!—to eat;        15
Were the table but covered our task would be sweet!
 
Our cooks are sad pygmies; they cannot be less:
They needs must look small when they’ve nothing to dress.
Can they carve from a fog, make of darkness a stew,
Or turn a stag’s ghost to a venison ragoût?        20
 
 
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