Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Mad Maria


Mad Maria in the Square
Sits upon a wicker chair.
When the keeper asks the price
Mad Maria counts her lice.
No pesito can she pay,
So he shrugs and goes away;
Hopes she'll pay him with her prayers,
Shabby keeper of the chairs.

Mad Maria counts her lice,
Cracks them once and cracks them twice,
Combs them from her sunny hair;
People stop to turn and stare.
Innocent in thought and deed
Mad Maria pays no heed,
And the Cross upon her breast
Proves her blessed of the blest.

So she sings her little song,
Happy as the day is long,
hunting in her camisole
Shy partakers of her dole;
thinking: Heaven please forgive -
Even lice have leave to live;
(But sweet Reader, do not blame,
For she kills them just the same.)

Mad Maria goes unchid,
Mildest maid in all Madrid;

While around in serried ranks
Rear the bold facades of Banks;
But when wrath of Heaven smites
Hosts of Mammon's parasites,
Mad Maria will not fall,
Being oh so very small.

Pariahs to God belong,
to be weak is to be strong;
Fools are richer than the wise,
And who see with shining eyes
Angels in the sordid street
Deem their happiness complete. . . .
Mad Maria counts her beads,
Cracks her lice and - Heaven heeds.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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