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

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But this is all but picking,
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With rest, pence, chest and chicken;
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It ever was decreed, sir,
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If lawyer's hand is fee'd, sir,
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He steals your whole estate.Air XXII.Cotillon3-
Youth's the season made for joys,
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Love is then our duty,
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She alone who that employs,
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Well deserves her beauty.
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Let's be gay,
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While we may,
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Beauty's a flower, despised in decay.CHORUS.3-
Youth's the season, &c.Cotillon3-
Let us drink and sport to-day,
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Ours is not to-morrow.
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Love with youth flies swift away,
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Age is nought but sorrow.
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Dance and sing,
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Time's on the wing,
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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;
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Nay, some have out-liv'd the doctor's pill;
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Who takes a woman must be undone,
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That basilisk is sure to kill.
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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


Read poems about / on: woman, soldier, husband, daughter, beauty, brother, dance, flower, sorrow, spring, lost, alone, life, women

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