Rich and Poor... or Saint and Sinner?

Actually published in a Stamford newspaper in July 1821, but it could have been written this morning judging by the state of our nation and 'government' in 2016.

The rich mans sins are under
The rose of wealth & station
     & escape the sight
     Of the children of light
Who are wise in their generation

But the poor mans sins are glaring
In the face of all ghostly warning
     He is caught in the fact
     Of an overt act
Buying greens on a sunday morning

The rich man has a kitchen
Wherein to cook his dinner
     But the poor who would roast
     To the bakers must post
& thus he becomes a sinner

The rich man has a cellar
& a ready butler by him
     The poor man must steer
     For his pint of beer
Where the saint is sure to spy him

The rich man's open windows
Hide the concerts of the quality:
     The poor can but share
     A crack'd fiddle in the air,
Which offends all sound morality.

The rich man is invisible
In the crowd of his gay society
     But the poor mans delight
     Is a sore in the sight
& a stench in the nose of piety

The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822,
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)

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