An old Czech satirical poem about an argument between a scholar and a groom over who has it better in life.
How to Obtain
The Groom to the Scholar
Scholar, you wretched fellow!
How can you so boldly bellow?
You, with no coin to your name gaunt and afraid of the cane,
Trudging through this world in squalor,
Ever burdened by your labour,
However you may toil and sweat,
No better garments shall you get.
To go in rags is a pupil’ s lot,
A bed to lie on you have not.
Now you lie by the hearth at night,
But in winter you will have to fight to warm your bones by the fireside near for they’ ll drive you out without a care.
You’ d be blessed to sleep on the floor at least,
Not left to lie on the earth like a beast.
Shivering on the frozen ground, with chattering teeth and frost all round.
And still you’ ll have no end to chores,
Lighting the stove and sweeping floors,
Your work may never be forgot, although you cannot sleep a jot when on the cold hard ground you lay.
I'm better off, I proudly say.
My bed of straw is like Paradise, where at night I peacefully lie like a bird in a feathered nest of spruce.
Though at times I lie in dung, God’ s truth. - but still I suffer little pain, save when I am soaked by rain,
I must wait till dawn and my clothing dries,
And I wipe it clean as soon as I rise so the cloth is clean and bright next day.
Mark my words, one thing I’ ll say: the peasants fear me to a man!
Wherever I may walk or stand, all bow their heads before me low:
"Welcome, Master!”, they greet me so,
Even the farmer steps aside and the chickens can hardly run and hide
I’m glad of that, for if they will, let them hide in my bag until, I take them with me to a feast - plucked and cooked in their own grease!
One thing I’ll say, since you entreat me:
I have no fear my lord will beat me.
The Scholar to the Groom
You are but a rag from the stable!
How oft have you food on your table?
Slender you are as a weed, no better than a peasant indeed, mucking out dung every day no better thing comes your way.
With a scholar you cannot compare - whose prospects are better than fair.
Unlike you, you rabble unlearned!
God willing, one day I’ll have earned a bishop’s mitre and crosier, for I labour to make my life rosier.
Unless fortune should prove contrary, I’ll soon go to the famed seminary, in pursuit of my true aspiration, to gain my first ordination.
And who would dare to spite me when I am high and mighty, in golden robes of fabric grand, a priest or prelate of the land?
While I shall preach from the pulpit, you will stand like a guilty culprit in your stinking rags at your prayer, shrinking under my glare.
You wretched bearer of ill-will, put aside your conceit and be still,
Save your quarrels and your curses - men’ s worth is not in their purses!
Be wise and heed my advice:
if you wish for a long happy life, abandon your stable and your rabble!