All that I have proved up to now is that I have as much
Wisdom as most fools, and more than those who don’t know they’re such.
This is the real knowledge I have gained after many years
Of wineshop companionship and weeping a sea of tears.
So I have shed my fears, knowing that a drunk who is poor
Is richer than the mighty who are kept outside the door.
Again, I say, better through poverty to lose one’s health
Than to dislocate one’s shoulder stretching out for more wealth.
A pinched belly is no hardship when there is wine in the head;
And love on the pavement is better than a too wide bed.
The world is divided into two classes of asses:
Those with spectacles seeking love, those who know it through glasses.
But far, far beyond these is the willing slave who sweeps
The wineshop floor with his eyebrows and the Master’s order keeps.
The knowledge that you know nothing is the beginning of wisdom. This is the wisdom though that knows you are as stupid as everybody else!
The poverty he treasures here is not physical but ‘spiritual’. That is, it comes from honest openness to truth. It is the discarding of illusions.
In the eyes of the world it is no great reward for all that time in the wineshop. But this drunk is free from preserving the body and from seeking variety and comfort – the too wide bed.
The head conscious seek through the lenses of their spectacles of desire. The tavern slave gets it straight from the wine glass in ‘states’.
The poem ends with a fervour which comes straight from loving surrender to the master, realer than any learning or states.