Juan del Valle y Caviedes (1652-1695?): The Privileges of the Poor

Peruvian poet.

The poor man is stupid if silent;
and if he speaks, he is an idiot;
if he shows knowledge, he is a chatterer;
and if he is affable, he is a liar;
if he is polite, he is a meddler;
when he doesn't suffer, arrogant;
cowardly when he is humble;
and crazy when he is resolute;
if brave, he is reckless;
conceited, if he is modest;
flattering, if compliant;
and if he begs pardon, coarse';
if he pretends, he is cheeky;
if he is deserving, he gets no appreciation;
his nobility is unseen, and his best clothes, unclean;
if he works, he is greedy, and at the opposite extreme
a lost soul if he rests . . .
Behold! Are these not privileges?

Translated by Mary Gallwey

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This is an excerpt from Reading About the World, Volume 2, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers, Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by Harcourt Brace Custom Books.

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