It's A Hard Life Bein' Dead

Mouth all bunged up by the clay,With them worms I'm takin' issue –Can't git out of this here grave,Thump you good, forgive you, kiss you…(Gypsy-band song) Let whoever's willing say Of all earthly things death's best.I'll deny that any day –For the boneyard I've no zest.I, for one, will yet declare,Anytime and anywhere,While there's breath within my chest:Though life treats me far from fair,For death's comforts I don't care. If your years have all been lean,And you die without a dime,They'll still scrub your carcass clean,And remove all of your grime. Yet a bathed corpse knows no glee –From dead meat, as all can vow,Even lice are quick to flee –For it fails to furnish chow.Though I know I won't be spreadWith a shroud, I'll live somehow –I'd be quick, though poorly clad,Rather than spruced up and dead. Whilst you live, you may be bare.Yet, when you give up the ghost,Folks will give you things to wear(Though you've reached your bottommost) –Shirt and trousers to put on,And a stiff bow-tie to don:That'll keep you warm as toast…Yet I would much rather tryLiving dressed in rags than die. You'd be hard put to the test(And methinks the gain is nil)To arouse some interestWhen you're dead, though dressed to kill.I'd much rather live undressedThan die in my Sunday best.Naked came I from the womb –Should I dress up for the tomb? Some have funerals with food –A most exquisite affair:Rice an' fish an' all things good,Which the mourners duly share,An' there's wine in rich supply,Stocked in demijohns nearbyReady for whoever wouldHave the blood-red liquor flow… I'd be in a gloomy moodTo be missing such a show –Garbed in fir, stiff as a board,While they drink with one accord… Now then, were you to enquireWhat I yearn for, what I craveIn this world – my heart's desireIs to be out of the graveFor my funeral wassail,Downing spirits, wine and aleWith those mourning my decease,As they whisper "Rest in peace."If I'm doomed to die, at leastLet us not be torn asunder – Why should mourners have a feastWhile I'm stiff and six feet under? What's the use of marching bands –Drum and trumpet and trombone – When you lie with folded hands,And can't hear a single tone?Of a truth, their boomin' soundMakes me itch to stomp the ground –Else the whole occasion's blown…If I'm granted one last stomp,I don't care for further pomp,Nay, for neither drum nor fifeCan restore me back to life. Yet there's someone, truth to tell,I'd be glad were she to mournAt the sounding of my knell,As down to the grave I'm borne –My sweet woman, for she knowsWho's to blame for my death throes,And by whom my heart was tornAs she turned me on the spit –An' she though nothing of it.I still hope that as I lie,Cold and speechless on my bier,From her crystal-clear eyeShe will shed a tiny tear –Just one drop, however small –Then I'd smile beneath my pall. Though I fear, friends, at the sightOf her tears I'll come alive –Death himself would have no mightTo hold me, nor coffins five –Yea, I'd burst them all apartTo give comfort to her heartAn' allow no tear to thrive –There's such beauty in her eye,I'll think twice before I die. Though she sometimes plays the whore, Where she lost for evermore,I'd miss thumpin' her, an' then,I'd miss making up again.Though she jumps from bed to bed,That's no reason to be dead –When she's back, we move ahead…Therefore, be that as it may,I don't really think I careWhat philosophers might say –Though they claim life's far from great,I will, all the same, declareI don't mind if death comes late. 1941

by Miron Radu Paraschivescu (1911-1971)