The Grumbling Clown – A very old joke (1786, in fact!) with a very funny punchline – and a point about grumbling, to boot
Beneath an oak a rustick clown
Lay lounging in the shade,
Complaining loud of Fortune’s gifts,
And call’d her’partial jade.
The works of Providence were wrong,
And bad was all in sight;
He knew some things were wrong contriv’d
And he could set them right.
‘For instance,’ cries the grumbling churl,
‘Behold this sturdy tree;
‘Remark the little things it bears,
‘And what disparity!
‘Again–observe yon pumpkins grow,
‘And see! the stalks show small!
‘Unable to support their fruit,
‘So bulky are they all!
‘Now, I, if I had power to do’t,
‘Would alter thus the case:
‘That this large tree should pumpkins bear,
‘And acorns take their place.’
He spoke; and, rising on his breech,
Strait from the tree fell down
An acorn of the smaller size,
And pitch’d upon his crown.
‘Now,’ says a trav’ller, who had heard
‘The whole the clown had said,
‘Suppose the tree had pumpkins borne,
‘What would have sav’d thy head?’