Bottom of the Barrel

organ grinder
The Organ Grinder by Vasily Perov

 

Bottom of the Barrel

I saw an organ grinder and his capuchin the other day –
He made an awful racket, and the monkey didn’t want to play,
And no surprise !, the poor bedraggled creature looked a broken thing,
Half-starved and half-exhausted, on a short and fraying string.
The organist was little better – no musician with a skill –
He simply turned the handle to produce the loud and flat and shrill.

I ought to add, this wasn’t in a smart and swanky part of town,
Because the rich have constables to move them on and shut them down.
Instead, they haunt the humble in the poorest, foulest thoroughfare,
In begging half a penny from the folks who haven’t one to spare.
But still I stopped, and watched that doleful monkey, as his master hawked,
And wondered what he might have dreamt of, if he only could have talked…

“I’d rather be a monkey than an organ grinder, any day –
We monkeys gets to leap and dance, and gen’rally to have our way,
And sport a hand-made uniform, and all the grapes that we can eat,
And always plays to cheering crowds from Berkeley Square to Gower Street.
And yet the world is quick to view me as a lackey or buffoon –
But grinders only get to grind, and grind, and grind all afternoon.”

I saw an organ grinder and his capuchin the other day –
And shared a knowing look, we three, of how they’d soon be swept away.

 

 

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