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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

My Tomb

By Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780–1857)

(Mon Tombeau)

Translation of William Young

WHAT! whilst I’m well, beforehand you design,

At vast expense, for me to build a shrine?

Friends, ’tis absurd! to no such outlay go;

Leave to the great the pomp and pride of woe.

Take what for marble or for brass would pay—

For a dead beggar garb by far too gay—

And buy life-stirring wine on my behalf:

The money for my tomb right gayly let us quaff!

A mausoleum worthy of my thanks

At least would cost you twenty thousand francs:

Come, for six months, rich vale and balmy sky,

As gay recluses, be it ours to try.

Concerts and balls, where Beauty’s self invites,

Shall furnish us our castle of delights;

I’ll run the risk of finding life too sweet:

The money for my tomb right gayly let us eat!

But old I grow, and Lizzy’s youthful yet:

Costly attire, then, she expects to get;

For to long fast a show of wealth resigns—

Bear witness Longchamps, where all Paris shines!

You to my fair one something surely owe;

A Cashmere shawl she’s looking for, I know:

’Twere well for life on such a faithful breast

The money for my tomb right gayly to invest!

No box of state, good friends, would I engage,

For mine own use, where spectres tread the stage:

What poor wan man with haggard eyes is this?

Soon must he die—ah, let him taste of bliss!

The veteran first should the raised curtain see—

There in the pit to keep a place for me,

(Tired of his wallet, long he cannot live)—

The money for my tomb to him let’s gayly give!

What doth it boot me, that some learned eye

May spell my name on gravestone, by and by?

As to the flowers they promise for my bier,

I’d rather, living, scent their perfume here.

And thou, posterity!—that ne’er mayst be—

Waste not thy torch in seeking signs of me!

Like a wise man, I deemed that I was bound

The money for my tomb to scatter gayly round!