Poems » john gay » the beggar s opera


  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.

  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.

  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.

  Youth's the season, &c.

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.

   Let us drink, &c.

Courtiers, Courtiers think it no harm, &c.

  Man may escape from rope and gun;
Nay, some have out-liv'd the doctor's pill;
Who takes a woman must be undone,
    That basilisk is sure to kill.
The fly that sips treacle is lost in the sweets,
So he that tastes woman, woman, woman,
    He that tastes woman, ruin meets.