tlf news Vol. xi #4 December, 1990

A Lot of People are Arriving

A lot of people are arriving
In Bethlehem, so many that
The city wears a festive air.

And what's the reason for their coming?

Caesar's issued a new edict
Ordering a thorough census
Of every village, town, and city.

The census is on the prowl? Just wait,
'Cause just around the corner now,
"This way the money," they'll be saying,
"The poor exchequer is malnourished."

This is what'll be the result:
I'll end up without any sheep.
They always dump the heaviest load
Of the taxes on the poorest.

As I was passing by the inn
A beautiful young girl arrived,
Big with child and near her time;
An older man accompanied her.
In the courtyard of the inn
They knocked and called for help.
A sinister-looking, hoarse-voiced man,
Noting at a glance that they are poor,
Cuts them off and answers harshly:
"Beggars should look somewhere else;
Here the only king is gold.
For all the creatures of your class
And state, there's no room here."
And with a shove he pushes them out
Through the doorway into the street.

There's the proof that what I told you,
Arnaldo, is the absolute truth:
All of us poor and common folk,
They treat us like we were animals.

--Padre Jose Trinidad Reyes
(Honduras, 1797-1855):
La Pastorela de Elisa

And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

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