Monday, 30 April 2018

A Moral Man - Nikolai Nekrasov

A strictly moral man have I been ever,
And never injured anybody—never.
I lent my friend a sum he could not pay;
I jogged his memory in a friendly way,
Then took the law of him th’ affair to end;
The law to prison sent my worthy friend.
He died there—not a farthing for poor me!
I am not angry, though I’ve cause to be;
His debt that very moment I forgave,
And shed sad tears of sorrow o’er his grave.
A strictly moral man have I been ever,
And never injured anybody—never.

I sent a serf of mine to learn the dressing
Of meat. He learned it—a good cook’s a blessing—
But strangely did neglect his occupation,
And gained a taste not suited to his station:
He liked to read, to reason, to discuss.
I, tired of scolding, without further fuss
Had the rogue flogged—all for the love of him.
He went and drowned himself—what a strange whim!
A strictly moral man have I been ever,
And never injured anybody—never.

My silly daughter fell in love, one day,
And with a tutor wished to run away.
I threatened curses, and pronounced my ban;
She yielded, and espoused a rich old man.
Their house was splendid, brimming o’er with wealth,
But suddenly the poor child lost her health,
And in a year consumption wrought her doom;
She left us mourning o’er her early tomb.
A strictly moral man have I been ever,
And never injured anybody—never.

Nikola1 Nekrasov (1821–1877) Russia (born in Ukraine)
Translator not known
Source: The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia of the Classic Wit and Humor of all Ages and Nations edited by Strachey, Lionel, et al., New York: The Review of Reviews Company, 1906 (Vol. XIV: Russian—Scandinavian—Miscellaneous)

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