The Complaints of the Poor.

And wherefore do the poor complain ?1
The rich man ask’d of me ;2
Come, walk abroad with me, I said,3
And I will answer thee.4
’Twas, evening, and the frozen streets5
Were to behold ;6
And we were wrapt and coated well,7
And yet we were a-cold.8
We met an old bareheaded man :9
His locks were thin and white ;10
I asked him what he did abroad11
In that cold winter night.12
The cold was keen, indeed, he said,13
But at home no fire had he,14
And therefore he had come abroad15
To ask for charity.16
We met a young barefooted child,17
And she begg’d loud and bold ;18
I ask’d her what she did abroad 19
When the wind it blew so cold.20
She said her father was at home,21
And he lay sick a-bed,22
And therefore was it she was sent23
Abroad to beg for bread.24
We saw a woman sitting down25
Upon a stone to rest ;26
She had a baby at her back,27
And another at her breast :—28
I ask’d her why she loiter’d there,29
When the night wind was so chill ?30
She turn’d her head, and bade the child31
That scream’d be still ;—32
Then told us that her husband served33
A soldier, far away,34
And therefore to her parish she35
Was begging back her way.36
We met a girl—her dress was loose,37
And sunken was her eye,38
Who, with a wanton’s hollow voice,39
Address’d the passers by.40
I ask’d her what there was in me41
That could her heart allure42
To shame, disease, and late remorse—43
She answer’d she was poor.44
I turn’d me to the rich mar, then,45
For silently stood he ;46
You ask’d me why the poor complain,47
And these have answer’d thee.48