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Poore Man Payes for All

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The Poore Man Payes for All

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The Poore Man Payes for All

As I lay musing all alone
Upon my resting bed,
Full many a cogitation
Did come into my head:
And, waking from my sleepe, I
My dreame to mind did call:
Me thought I saw before mine eyes,
     How poore men payes for all.

Me thought I saw how wealthy men
Did grind the poore men's faces,
And greedily did prey on them,
Not pittying their cases:
They make them toyle and labour sore
For wages too-too small;
The rich men in the tavernes rore,
     But poore men pay for all.

Me thought I saw an usurer old
Walke in his fox-fur'd gowne,
Whose wealth and eminence controld
The most men in the towne;
His wealth he by extortion got,
And rose by others' fall;
He had what his hands earned not,
     But poore men pay for all.

Me thought I saw a courtier proud
Come swaggering along,
That unto any scarce allow'd
The office of his tongue:
Me thought, wert not for bribery,
His peacock's plumes would fall;
He ruffles out in bravery,
     But poore men pay for all.

Me thought I was i' th' countrey,
Where poore men take great paines,
And labour hard continually,
Onely for rich men's gaines:
Like th' Israelitcs in Egypt,
The poore are kept in thrall;
The task-masters are playing kept,
     But poore men pay for all.

Me thought I saw poore tradesmen,
I' th' city and else-where,
Whom rich men keepe as beads-men,
In bondage, care and feare:
Thei'l have them worke for what they list-
Thus weakest go to the wall:
The rich men eate and drinke the best,
     But poore men pay for all.

Me thought I saw two lawyers base
One to another say,
"We have had in hand this poor man's case
A twelvemonth and a day:
And yet wee'l not contented be
To let the matter fall;
Beare thou with me, & Ile beare with thee,
     While poore men pay for all.
Me thought I saw a red-nose host,
As fat as he could wallow;
Whose carkasse, if it should be roast,
Would drop seven stone of tallow:
He growes rich out of measure
With filling measure small;
He lives in mirth and pleasure,
     But poore men pay for all.

And so likewise the brewer stout,
The chandler and the baker,
The mault-mon also, without doubt,
And the tobacco-taker:
Though they be proud, and stately growne.
And beare themselves so tall ;
Yet to the world it is well knowne
     That poore men pay for all.

Even as the mighty fishes still
Doe feed upon the lesse;
So rich men, might they have their will,
Would on the poore men cess:
It is a proverbe old and true-
That weakest goe to th' wall;
Rich men can drink till th' sky looke blue,
     But poore men pay for all.

But now, as I before did say,
This is but a dreame indeed;
Though all dreames prove not true, some may
Hap right as I doe reade:
And if that any come to passe,
I doubt this my dreame shall;
For till 'tis found too true a case-
     That poore men pay for all.

From A Ballad History of England, Palmer
Printed 1630
Note: Beads-men: suppliants
See also Farmer is the Man, Dodger Song, Hard Times of Old England etc.
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