The Song of the Strange Ascetic

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The Song of the Strange Ascetic  (1913) 
by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

If I had been a heathen,
I'd have praised the purple vine,
My slaves should dig the vineyards,
And I would drink the wine;
But Higgins is a heathen,
And his slaves grow lean and grey,
That he may drink some tepid milk
Exactly twice a day.

If I had been a heathen,
I'd have crowned Neaera's curls,
And filled my life with love affairs,
My house with dancing girls;
But Higgins is a heathen,
And to lecture rooms is forced,
Where his aunts, who are not married,
Demand to be divorced.

If I had been a heathen,
I'd have sent my armies forth,
And dragged behind my chariots
The Chieftains of the North;
But Higgins is a heathen,
And he drives the dreary quill,
To lend the poor that funny cash
That makes them poorer still.

If I had been a heathen,
I'd have piled my pyre on high,
And in a great red whirlwind
Gone roaring to the sky;
But Higgins is a heathen,
And a richer man than I:
And they put him in an oven,
Just as if he were a pie.

Now who that runs can read it,
The riddle that I write,
Of why this poor old sinner
Should sin without delight;
But I, I cannot read it
(Although I run and run),
Of them that do not have the faith,
And will not have the fun.