by Don Marquis (1878-1937)
A toast to the Fools!
Touchstone and Triboulet–all of the tribe.–
Dancer and jester and singer and scribe.
We sigh over Yorick—(unfortunate fool,
Ten thousand Hamlets have fumbled his skull!)—
But where is the Hamlet to weep o’er the biers
Of his brothers?
And where is the poet solicits our tears
For the others?
They have passed from the world and left never a sign,
And few of us now have the courage to sing
That their whimsies made life a more livable thing–
We, that are left of the line,
Let us drink to the jesters—in gooseberry wine!
Then here’s to the Fools!
Flouting the sages
Through history’s pages
And driving the dreary old seers into rages—
The humbugging Magis
Who prate that the wages
Of Folly are Death–toast the Fools of all ages!
They have ridden like froth down the whirlpools of time,
They have jingled their caps in the councils of state,
They have snared half the wisdom of life in a rhyme,
And tripped into nothingness grinning at fate–
Ho, brothers mine,
Brim up the glasses with gooseberry wine!
Though the prince with his firman,
The judge in his ermine,
Affirm and determine
Bold words need the whip,
Let them spare us the rod and remit us the sermon,
For Death has a quip
Of the tomb and the vermin
That will silence at last the most impudent lip!
Is the world but a bubble, a bauble, a joke?
Heigho, Brother Fools, now your bubble is broke,
Do you ask for a tear?–or is it worth while?
Here’s a sigh for you, then–but it ends in a smile!
Ho, Brother Death,
We would laugh at you, too–if you spared us the breath!