John Gay

(30 June 1685 – 4 December 1732 / Barnstaple, England)

The Beggar's Opera (excerpts)


Air I.An old woman clothed in gray, &c.1-
Through all the employments of life
-
Each neighbour abuses his brother;
-
Whore and rogue they call husband and wife:
-
All professions be-rogue one another.
-
The priest calls the lawyer a cheat,
-
The lawyer be-knaves the divine;
-
And the statesman, because he's so great,
-
Thinks his trade as honest as mine.Air XI.A Soldier and a Sailor2-
A fox may steal your hens, sir,
-
A whore your health and pence, sir,
-
Your daughter rob your chest, sir,
-
Your wife may steal your rest, sir,
-
A thief your goods and plate.

-
But this is all but picking,
-
With rest, pence, chest and chicken;
-
It ever was decreed, sir,
-
If lawyer's hand is fee'd, sir,
-

He steals your whole estate.Air XXII.Cotillon3-
Youth's the season made for joys,
-
Love is then our duty,
-
She alone who that employs,
-
Well deserves her beauty.
-
Let's be gay,
-
While we may,
-
Beauty's a flower, despised in decay.CHORUS.3-
Youth's the season, &c.Cotillon3-
Let us drink and sport to-day,
-

Ours is not to-morrow.
-

Love with youth flies swift away,
-

Age is nought but sorrow.
-

Dance and sing,
-

Time's on the wing,
-

Life never knows the return of spring.CHORUS.3-

Let us drink, &c.Air XXVI.4-
Courtiers, Courtiers think it no harm, &c.4-
Man may escape from rope and gun;
-
Nay, some have out-liv'd the doctor's pill;
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Who takes a woman must be undone,
-
That basilisk is sure to kill.
-
The fly that sips treacle is lost in the sweets,
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So he that tastes woman, woman, woman,
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He that tastes woman, ruin meets.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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