Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > French
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. X–XI: French
 
The Dead Alive
By Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780–1857)
 
From “Songs”

WHEN a bore gets hold of me,
  Dull and overbearing,
Be so kind as pray for me,
  I’m as dead as herring.
When the thrusts of pleasure glib        5
  In my sides are sticking,
Poking fun at every rib,
  I’m alive and kicking.
 
When a snob his £ s. d.
  Jingles in his breeches,        10
Be so kind as pray for me,
  I’m as dead as ditches.
When a birthday’s champagne-corks
  Round my ears are clicking,
Marking time with well-oil’d works,        15
  I’m alive and kicking.
 
Kings and their supremacy
  Occupy the table,
Be so kind as pray for me,
  I’m as dead as Abel.        20
Talk about the age of wine
  (Bought by cash or ticking),
So you bring a sample fine,
  I’m alive and kicking.
 
When a trip to Muscovy        25
  Tempts a conquest glutton,
Be so kind as pray for me,
  I’m as dead as mutton.
Match me with a tippling foe,
  See who first wants picking        30
From the dead man’s field below,
  I’m alive and kicking.
 
When great scribes to poetry
  March, by notions big led,
Be so kind as pray for me,        35
  I’m as dead as pig-lead.
When you start a careless song,
  Not at grammar sticking,
Good to push the wine along,
  I’m alive and kicking.        40
 
When a bigot, half-hours three,
  Spouts in canting gloom’s tones,
Be so kind as pray for me,
  I’m as dead as tombstones.
When in cloisters underground,        45
  Built of stone or bricking,
Orders of the screw you found,
  I’m alive and kicking.
 
Bourbons back in France we see
  (Sure we don’t much need ’em),        50
Be so kind as pray for me,
  I’m as dead as freedom.
Bess returns, and still our throats
  Find us here a-slicking,
Sitting free without our coats—        55
  I’m alive and kicking.
 
Forced to leave this company,
  Bottle-wine and horn-ale,
Be so kind as pray for me,
  I’m as dead as door-nail.        60
Pledging, though, a quick return,
  Soon my anchor sticking
On the shore for which I yearn—
  I’m alive and kicking.
 
 
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