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The Grumbling Clown

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.

‘€œFor instance,’€ cries the grumbling churl,
‘€œBehold this sturdy tree;
‘€œRemark the little things it bears,
‘€œAnd what disparity!

‘€œAgain–observe yon pumpkins grow,
‘€œAnd see! the stalks show small!
‘€œUnable to support their fruit,
‘€œSo bulky are they all!

‘€œNow, I, if I had power to do’€™t,
‘€œWould alter thus the case:
‘€œThat this large tree should pumpkins bear,
‘€œAnd 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.

‘€œNow,’€ says a trav’€™ller, who had heard
‘€œThe whole the clown had said,
‘€œSuppose the tree had pumpkins borne,
‘€œWhat would have sav’€™d thy head?’€


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