My Vocation

Original Text: 
Indian Poetry in English: A Literary History and Anthology, ed. A. N. Dwivedi (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1980): 65-66. PR 9495 .25 I5 Robarts Library
2    Sick, ugly and small,
4    And rejected by all,
5From my lips broke a cry,
6    Such as anguish may wring,
7Sing, -- said God in reply,
8    Chant poor little thing.
9By Wealth's coach besmeared
10    With dirt in a shower,
11Insulted and jeered
12    By the minions of power,
13Where -- oh where shall I fly?
14    Who comfort will bring?
15Sing, -- said God in reply,
16    Chant poor little thing.
17Life struck me with fright --
18    Full of chances and pain,
19So I hugged with delight
20    The drudge's hard chain;
21One must eat, -- yet I die,
22    Like a bird with clipped wing,
23Sing -- said God in reply,
24    Chant poor little thing.
25Love cheered for a while
26    My morn with his ray,
27But like a ripple or smile
28    My youth passed away.
29Now near Beauty I sigh,
30    But fled is the spring!
31Sing -- said God in reply,
32    Chant poor little thing.
33All men have a task,
34    And to sing is my lot --
35No meed from men I ask
36    But one kindly thought.
37My vocation is high --
38    'Mid the glasses that ring,
39Still -- still comes that reply,
40    Chant poor little thing.


1] "Originally written by [Jean-Pierre de] Béranger, this song was `a great favourite of Thackeray. The reader may perhaps remember his reference to it in his lecture on Goldsmith ...' (`Notes,' A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields, p. 236)" (Dwivedi, p. 144). Back to Line
3] contemned: slighted, treated with distain. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
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