(Week 20 - Monday, Dec. 22)
The people is a beast of muddy brain
That knows not its own force, and therefore stands
Loaded with wood and stone, the powerless hands
Of a mere child guide it with bit and rein.
One kick would be enough to break the chain;
But the beast fears, and what the child demands,
It does; nor its own terror understands,
Confused and stupefied by bugbears vain.
Most wonderful! with its own hands it ties
And gags itself – gives itself death and war
For pence doled out by kings from its own stores.
It own are all things between earth and heaven,
But this it knows not; and if one arise
To tell this truth, it kills him unforgiven.
From the Italian poem, "The People,"
Translated by John Addington Symonds
* * * * * * * * * * *
To whom it many concern, this note of hand
Is worth a thousand ducats on demand,
The pledge wereof and guarantee is found
In treasure buried in the Emperor's ground . . .
. . . the charming mob all grabbing rush,
They almost maul the donor in the crush.
The gems he flicks around as in a dream,
And snatchers fill the hall in greedy dream.
But lo, a trick quite new to me:
The thing each seizes eagerly
Rewards him with a scurvy pay,
The gift dissolves and floats away.
The rascal offers wealth untold,
But gives the glitter, not the gold.
Mephostopheles, the king's jester.
From Phillip Wayne's translation of Goethe's Faust (Part II), Penguin Books, Ltd., London, 1959
Both poems as quoted in "Unforgiven: The American Economic System SOLD for War and Debt", Charles Walters
1904 1st Ave. S, #12
Minneapolis, MN 55403
The complete set of columns from this series is posted at the following websites.