The Beggar and his Dog

Image from the Boston Public Library via flickr

The Beggar and his Dog.

FROM THE GERMAN OF CHAMISSO

THREE dollars, three, for my dog to pay!
Lightining strike me this moment, I pray!
What can they mean, these tyrant police?
Where will their grinding of poor men cease?

I am a broken, old, weary man,
And earn a penny, I never can;
I have no money, no bread, no dole;
Hunger and want are my portion sole.

And when I sickn’d and fevershook me?
Who pitied me when all else forsook me?
When alone in God’s wide world I stood,
Who was it bore me companionhood?

When my woes were sorest, whose love was unflinching?
Who warm’d my limbs when the forst was pinching?
And when I was hungry and surely, who
Growl’d not, but patiently hunger’d too?

OUr wretched lfie we have both, old friend,
Drain’d to the dregs; it must have an end;
Old and sickly thou’rt grown like me,
I must drown thee, — and this is my thanks to thee!

This is my thanks for thy love unswerving!
‘Tis the way of the world with all deserving,
Though my part in many a fight I have play’d,
‘S death! I am new at the hangman’s trade.

Here is the cord, here it the stone,
There is the water it must be done!
Come hither, poor cur, not a look on me cast,
One push with my foot, and all is past!

As he tied round its neck the fatal band,
The fog fawn’d on him and lick’d his hand;
He tore back the cord in trembling haste,
And round his own neck he bound it fast.

And wildly he utter’d a fearful curse;
And wildly he gathered his latest force,
And he plunged in the flood; white eddies rush’d
Recoiled, chafed, bubbled, and all was hush’d.

In vain sprang the dog to his rescue then,
Howl’d to the ships for the aid of men,
Whining and tugging gathered them round, —
‘Twas the corpse of the beggar was borne,

To the grave in silence the beggar was borne,
With the dog alone to follow and mourn;
And over the turf that wrapped his clay,
The fond brute stretch’d him, and died where he lay!

Hillsdale Whig Standard (Hillsdale, Michigan) Jul 21, 1846

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