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The Poor in Purgatory and the Rich in Paradise

As you read this song, you will notice the word purgatory is not necessarily used as a religious term.  This song represents the anguish of the poor (purgatory) and the state of happiness of the rich (paradise).


We sing a song
of pure truth¼
The poor is in prison,
while the rich is free.

In this sad world,
the rich has plenty of pleasures,
while the poor is hated,
and no one can stand him.

The rich lives and enjoys life,
and he is cheerful,
while the poor is angry,
and lives in torment.

The rich is joyful,
it’s always that way,
while the poor is in agony,
and is in pain every day.

The rich at the refectory   (dining hall)
are drinking and eating,
while the poor is in purgatory
where he struggles in misery.

When the rich goes for a walk,
he goes to have fun,
but he poor sweats
with tears and sighs.

The rich stays in the coolness,
relaxing with the ladies,
while the poor is tortured,
as he works in the field.

The rich that dominates
has good marenghi,  (?)
While the poor that works
has no money.

Among these miserable mortals
you can see an injustice,
like you have never seen before.
The rich always rules,
enjoying good wine and good capon,
while the poor works
and for him he only has polenta.

Even so, polenta satisfies
the poor with pleasure,
and they see it’s a great blessing,
and a opportunity  to have it.

The rich is honored
because he has money,
while the poor is despised,
and begs like a dog.

And yet the poor
should be the one to receive honor,
because he is the one
that sheds a lot of sweat.

If there wasn’t the beggar
how could the rich
accumulate all his wealth?

If the rich has treasures
and if he has Marenghin,
they acquired the fruit of the sweat,
that was shed by the poor.

The poor struggles
by working hard,
and he doesn’t even
have enough polenta,
to fill himself up.

The poor works hard
to get bread for himself,
but when he does obtain a big treasure,
he must give the wealth to the kings.

The artist and the peasant,
are two companions
that guarantee fortune
to all the rich people.

The rich want to become powerful
and want to command,
but when death comes
he can no longer speak.

Their bragging must end,
their actions stop,
and they end up rotting
in the cemetery.

If you want to see the pride

that the rich people have,
take a trip to the cemetery,
and you can see who they are.

The rich have a great desire
to be superior,
but in God’s eyes
we are all sinners.  (equal)

And we are all mortal,
and this we can say,
we are all the same
when we are born
and when we die.

God creates us all
with a natural instinct,
and gives to the beautiful,
and to the ugly,
an immortal soul .

He sends us to this world
with our freedom,
so we can earnestly practice
holy charity.

The poor with his said destiny
has to struggle,
but after death,
his grief is over.

Because those who suffer
in this world,
will be awarded
in heaven with the Lord.

Cheer up oh yea poor,
be patient in your pain.
Even some priests
do us wrong.

If a Lord dies
they arrange a great ceremony,
but if a poor man dies,
he is abandoned.

And then they go around preaching
faith and the gospel,
and they all teach
that we are all brothers?

Every immortal soul,
before the Creator,
is not valued
according to his earthly possessions.

When the man poor dies,
he is left pathetic
and dishonored,
because he can not pay!

What do you say, priests,
of this harsh treatment?
Do you think you
should be devoted,
and just in your actions?

When you will be
before the Creator,
what will you say of
this terrible mistake?

The Eternal Judge
will turn to you,
and He will send you
all to hell.

You will be forced
to be damned,
because you didn’t treat
the poor people the same.


The poet Andrea Cereghino.
Written in 1878.

Translated by:
Stefania Dolce, a native Italian that was
attending Brigham Young University

in Provo, Utah.  She has now returned to Italy