The Beggar's Soliloquy

I

Now, this, to my notion, is pleasant cheer,
To lie all alone on a ragged heath,
Where your nose isn't sniffing for bones or beer,
But a peat-fire smells like a garden beneath.
The cottagers bustle about the door,
And the girl at the window ties her strings.
She's a dish for a man who's a mind to be poor;
Lord! women are such expensive things.

II

We don't marry beggars, says she: why, no:
It seems that to make 'em is what you do;
And as I can cook, and scour, and sew,
I needn't pay half my victuals for you.
A man for himself should be able to scratch,
But tickling's a luxury:- love, indeed!
Love burns as long as the lucifer match,
Wedlock's the candle! Now, that's my creed.

III

The church-bells sound water-like over the wheat;
And up the long path troop pair after pair.
The man's well-brushed, and the woman looks neat:
It's man and woman everywhere!
Unless, like me, you lie here flat,
With a donkey for friend, you must have a wife:
She pulls out your hair, but she brushes your hat.
Appearances make the best half of life.

IV

You nice little madam! you know you're nice.
I remember hearing a parson say
You're a plateful of vanity pepper'd with vice;
You chap at the gate thinks t' other way.
On his waistcoat you read both his head and his heart:
There's a whole week's wages there figured in gold!
Yes! when you turn round you may well give a start:
It's fun to a fellow who's getting old.

V

Now, that's a good craft, weaving waistcoats and flowers,
And selling of ribbons, and scenting of lard:
It gives you a house to get in from the showers,
And food when your appetite jockeys you hard.
You live a respectable man; but I ask
If it's worth the trouble? You use your tools,
And spend your time, and what's your task?
Why, to make a slide for a couple of fools.

VI

You can't match the colour o' these heath mounds,
Nor better that peat-fire's agreeable smell.
I'm clothed-like with natural sights and sounds;
To myself I'm in tune: I hope you're as well.
You jolly old cot! though you don't own coal:
It's a generous pot that's boiled with peat.
Let the Lord Mayor o' London roast oxen whole:
His smoke, at least, don't smell so sweet.

VII

I'm not a low Radical, hating the laws,
Who'd the aristocracy rebuke.
I talk o' the Lord Mayor o' London because
I once was on intimate terms with his cook.
I served him a turn, and got pensioned on scraps,
And, Lord, Sir! didn't I envy his place,
Till Death knock'd him down with the softest of taps,
And I knew what was meant by a tallowy face!

VIII

On the contrary, I'm Conservative quite;
There's beggars in Scripture 'mongst Gentiles and Jews:
It's nonsense, trying to set things right,
For if people will give, why, who'll refuse?
That stopping old custom wakes my spleen:
The poor and the rich both in giving agree:
Your tight-fisted shopman's the Radical mean:
There's nothing in common 'twixt him and me.

IX

He says I'm no use! but I won't reply.
You're lucky not being of use to him!
On week-days he's playing at Spider and Fly,
And on Sundays he sings about Cherubim!
Nailing shillings to counters is his chief work:
He nods now and then at the name on his door:
But judge of us two, at a bow and a smirk,
I think I'm his match: and I'm honest-that's more.

X

No use! well, I mayn't be. You ring a pig's snout,
And then call the animal glutton! Now, he,
Mr. Shopman, he's nought but a pipe and a spout
Who won't let the goods o' this world pass free.
This blazing blue weather all round the brown crop,
He can't enjoy! all but cash he hates.
He's only a snail that crawls under his shop;
Though he has got the ear o' the magistrates.

XI

Now, giving and taking's a proper exchange,
Like question and answer: you're both content.
But buying and selling seems always strange;
You're hostile, and that's the thing that's meant.
It's man against man-you're almost brutes;
There's here no thanks, and there's there no pride.
If Charity's Christian, don't blame my pursuits,
I carry a touchstone by which you're tried.

XII

- 'Take it,' says she, 'it's all I've got':
I remember a girl in London streets:
She stood by a coffee-stall, nice and hot,
My belly was like a lamb that bleats.
Says I to myself, as her shilling I seized,
You haven't a character here, my dear! Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)
76 Views

George Meredith

George Meredith was the head of the Meredith family who, with the Amos family, were the first settlers on the east coast of Tasmania. more…

All George Meredith poems | George Meredith Books

FAVORITE (0 fans)

Translation

Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • Chinese - Simplified 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • Chinese - Traditional 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Spanish Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • Japanese 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Portuguese Português (Portuguese)
  • German Deutsch (German)
  • Arabic العربية (Arabic)
  • French Français (French)
  • Russian Русский (Russian)
  • Kannada ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • Korean 한국어 (Korean)
  • Hebrew עברית (Hebrew)
  • Ukrainian Український (Ukrainian)
  • Urdu اردو (Urdu)
  • Hungarian Magyar (Hungarian)
  • Hindi मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesian Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italian Italiano (Italian)
  • Tamil தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Turkish Türkçe (Turkish)
  • Telugu తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • Thai ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Vietnamese Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Czech Čeština (Czech)
  • Polish Polski (Polish)
  • Indonesian Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Romanian Românește (Romanian)
  • Dutch Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Greek Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latin Latinum (Latin)
  • Swedish Svenska (Swedish)
  • Danish Dansk (Danish)
  • Finnish Suomi (Finnish)
  • Persian فارسی (Persian)
  • Yiddish ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • Armenian հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norwegian Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English English (English)

Discuss this George Meredith poem with the community:

Citation

Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

Style:MLAChicagoAPA

"The Beggar's Soliloquy" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 11 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/15604/the-beggar's-soliloquy>.

We need you!

Help us build the largest poetry community and poems collection on the web!

Our favorite collection of

Famous Poets

»

Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.