John Gay

William_Hogarth_the_beggar's_opera
William Hogarth engraved print (1728)

John Gay is an  English poet and dramatist who was born on 30 June 1685 and died in 1732. He is best remembered for “The Beggar’s Opera” (1728), a ballad opera, which was adapted by Bertolt Brecht into “Die Dreigroschenoper” (The Threepenny Opera, in Italian: L’opera da tre soldi) exactly  two hundred years later, in 1928.

The epitaph on his tomb contains his own mocking couplet:
“Life is a jest, and all things show it,
I thought so once, and now I know it.”
La vita è uno scherzo e ogni cosa lo dimostra,
pensavo così  una volta e ora lo so.

Here are a few quotes:

“Follow love and it will flee,
flee love and it will follow thee.”
Segui l’amore e lui fuggirà via, fuggi amore e lui ti seguirà.

“Fools may our scorn, not envy, raise.
For envy is a kind of praise.”
Gli sciocchi possono sollevare il nostro disprezzo, non l’invidia, perché l’invidia è una specie di lode

“I hate the man who builds his name;
On ruins of another’s fame”
Odio l’uomo che costruisce il proprio nome sulle rovine della fama di un altro 

“But Money, Wife, is the true Fuller’s Earth for Reputations, there is not a Spot or a Stain but what it can take out. A rich Rogue now-a-days is fit Company for any Gentleman; and the World, my Dear, hath not such a contempt for Roguery as you imagine.” (Peachum, in The Beggar’s Opera, act 1, sc. 9)
Ma il denaro, moglie mia, è lo smacchiatore infallibile per la reputazione; non c’è macchia o sporco che non riesca a far sparire. Oggi un furfante ricco è una compagnia adatta per qualsiasi gentiluomo e il mondo, mia cara, non disprezza la furfanteria come tu credi.

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18 thoughts on “John Gay

  1. Wonderful post and lithography, Luisa. This opera I first heard in Gothenburg in Swedish. Title is
    ” Tiggaroperan ” ( Beggar’s opera ) . Your quotes are great, my favourites being the last two.

    Miriam

    Liked by 2 people

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