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The Song of the Strange Ascetic

  If I had been a Heathen,
    I'd have praised the purple vine,
  My slaves should dig the vineyards,
    And I would drink the wine;
  But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And his slaves grow lean and grey,
  That he may drink some tepid milk
    Exactly twice a day.

  If I had been a Heathen,
    I'd have crowned Neoera's curls,
  And filled my life with love affairs,
    My house with dancing girls;
  But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And to lecture rooms is forced,
  Where his aunts, who are not married,
    Demand to be divorced.

  If I had been a Heathen,
    I'd have sent my armies forth,
  And dragged behind my chariots
    The Chieftains of the North.
  But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And he drives the dreary quill,
  To lend the poor that funny cash
    That makes them poorer still.

  If I had been a Heathen,
    I'd have piled my pyre on high,
  And in a great red whirlwind
    Gone roaring to the sky;
  But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And a richer man than I;
  And they put him in an oven,
    Just as if he were a pie.

  Now who that runs can read it,
    The riddle that I write,
  Of why this poor old sinner,
    Should sin without delight--?
  But I, I cannot read it
    (Although I run and run),
  Of them that do not have the faith,
    And will not have the fun.


 

Gilbert Keith Chesterton


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