The Beggar

We present this work in honor of the 180th anniversary of the poet’s death.

05-23 Espronceda
José de Espronceda
1808 – 1842

The world is mine; I am free as air;
Let others work that I may eat;
All shall melt at my piteous prayer:—
“An alms, for God’s sake, I entreat.”

The cabin, the palace,
Are my resort;
If the threat of the thunder
Shall break from the mountain,
Or the torrent’s quick fountain
Shall drive me under,
Within their shelter
The shepherds make place,
Lovingly asking me
Food to grace;
Or by the rich hearthstone
I take my ease
Fanned by the odors
Of burning trees;
With the luscious banquet
And cushioned store,
Upon the couch
Of some proud señor.

And I say to myself:—
“Let the breezes blow
And the tempest rage
In the world without:
Let the branches crack
Where the high winds go,
As I slumber with nothing to trouble about.
The world is mine; I am free as air!”

All are my patrons,
And for all I ask
My God as I daily pray;
From peasant and noble
I get my pay,
And I take their favors
Both great and small.
I never ask them
Who they be,
Nor stop to task them
With thanks for fee.
If they desire
To give me alms,
‘Tis but their duty
To tip my palms.
Their wealth is sinful
They must see;
And a holy state
Is my poverty,
And he is a miser
Who would deny
An alms, and a beggar
Blest am I.

For I am poor and they grieve to note
How I groan beneath my pain;
They never see that their wealth is a mine
Where I my treasures gain.
The world is mine; I am free as air!

A rebel and a discontent
Amid my rags am I;
To satirise their ease I’m sent
And with a sour-set eye
I boldly stare at the potentate
Who dares to pass me in his state.

The lovely maid
Of a thousand scents
In her joy arrayed
With her love-locks blent—
‘Tis she I follow
Till she turns around,
And my evil smells
Her sense astound.
At the feasts and spreads
My voice is heard
And they bow their heads
At my merest word.
Their joy and revel
I come to stay,
At the sight of my rags
And my voice’s brags
Their music dies away.
Showing how near
Dwell pain and joy;
No joy without tear
No pain sans glad alloy.
The world is mine; I am free as air!

For me no morrow
Nor yesterday;
I forget the sorrow
And the welladay.
There’s nought to trouble
Or weary me here,—
It’s a palace tomorrow
Or a hospital’s cheer.
I live a stranger
To thoughts of care;
Let others seek glory
Or riches rare!
My one concern
Is to pass today;
Let the laws prevail
Where the monarchs sway!
For I am a beggar
And a poor man proud;
‘Tis through fear of me
There are alms allowed.

A soft asylum
Where’er it be,
And a hospital bed
Will be ready for me;
And a cosy ditch
Where my bones shall lie
Will cover me over
When I die.

The world is mine; I am free as air;
Let others work that I may eat!
All hearts must melt at my piteous prayer:—
An alms, for God’s sake, I entreat!”

Translation by Thomas Walsh

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