by Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780 - 1857)
Translation by Anonymous / Unidentified Author

Le vieux vagabond
Language: French (Français) 
Dans ce fossé cessons de vivre,
Je finis vieux, infirme et las.
Les passants vont dire: il est ivre!
Tant mieux: Ils ne me plaindront pas.
J'en vois qui détournent la tête;
D'autres me jettent quelques sous.
Courez vite; allez à la fête,
Vieux vagabond, je puis mourir sans vous.

Oui, je meurs ici de vieillesse,
Parce qu'on ne meurt pas de faim.
J'espérais voir de ma détresse
L'hôpital adoucir la fin.
Mais tout est plein dans chaque hospice,
Tant le peuple est infortuné.
La rue, hélas! fut ma nourrice:
Vieux vagabond, mourons où je suis né.

Aux artisans, dans mon jeune âge,
J'ai dit: qu'on m'enseigne un métier.
Va, nous n'avons pas trop d'ouvrage,
Répondaient-ils; va mendier.
Riches qui me disiez: Travaille,
J'eus bien des os de vos repas;
J'ai bien dormi sur votre paille:
Vieux vagabond, je ne vous maudis pas.

J'aurais pu voler, moi pauvre homme;
Mais non: mieux vant tender la main:
Au plus, j'ai dérobé la pomme
Qui mûrit au bord du chemin.
Vingt fois pourtant on me verrouille
Dans les cachots, de par le roi.
De mon seul bien l'on me dépouille:
Vieux vagabond, le soleil est à moi.

La pauvre a-t-il une patrie?
Que me font vos vins et vos blés,
Votre gloire et votre industrie,
Et vos orateurs assemblés?
Dans vos murs ouverts à ses armes,
Lorsque l'étranger s'engraissait,
Comme un sot j'ai versé des larmes:
Vieux vagabond, sa main me nourrissait.

Comme un insecte, fait pour nuire,
Hommes, que ne m'écrasiez vous?
Ah! plutôt deviez m'instruire
A travailler au bien de tous.
Mis à l'abri du vent contraire
Le ver fût devenu fourmi;
Je vous aurais chéris en frère:
Vieux vagabond, je meurs votre ennemi.

E. Lalo sets stanzas 1-2, 5-6

Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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Researcher for this text: Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 48
Word count: 284

Here in the ditch my bones I'll lay
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Here in the ditch my bones I'll lay;
Weak, wearied, old, the world I leave.
"He's drunk," the passing crowd will say
'T is well, for none will need to grieve.
Some turn their scornful heads away,
Some fling an alms in hurrying by; --
Haste - 'tis the village holyday!
The aged beggar needs no help to die.
 
Yes! here, alone, of sheer old age
I die; for hunger slays not all.
I hoped my misery's closing page
To fold within some hospital;
But crowded thick is each retreat,
Such numbers now in misery lie.
Alas! my cradle was the street!
As he was born the aged wretch must die.
 
In youth, of workmen, o'er and o'er,
I've asked, "Instruct me in your trade."
"Begone! -- our business is not more
Than keeps ourselves, -- go, beg!" they said.
Ye rich, who bade me toil for bread,
Of bones your tables gave me store,
Your straw has often made my bed; --
In death I lay no curses at your door.
 
Thus poor, I might have turned to theft; --
No! -- better still for alms to pray!
At most, I've plucked some apple, left
To ripen near the public way,
Yet weeks and weeks, in dungeons laid
In the king's name, they let me pine;
They stole the only wealth I had, --
Though poor and old, the sun, at least, was mine.
 
What country has the poor to claim --
What boots to me your corn and wine,
Your busy toil, your vaunted fame,
The senate where your speakers shine?
Once, when your homes, by war o'erswept,
Saw strangers battening on your land,
Like any puling fool, I wept!
The aged wretch was nourished by their hand.
 
Mankind! why trod you not the worm,
The noxious thing, beneath your heel?
Ah! had you taught me to perform
Due labor for the common weal!
Then, sheltered from the adverse wind,
The worm and ant had learned to grow;
Ay, -- then I might have loved my kind; --
The aged beggar dies your bitter foe!

About the headline (FAQ)

Tait's Magazine, 1845

Authorship

Based on

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

    [ None yet in the database ]


Researcher for this text: Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2011-04-21
Line count: 48
Word count: 337