The migrating rats

Text by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

Translated into English by Joseph Massaad 

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There are two types of rats
The hungry ones and the fat
Satisfied, the fat ones remain at home,
The hungry ones go out and roam.

They rove over many a thousand-mile
Without resting or pausing for a while
Nothing stops them during their fierce course,
Be it wind, bad weather or even worse.

They gladly escalate many a height
And swim across the seas outright,
Many will break their neck or drown,
The survivors leave them behind without a frown.

Some of those weirdoes can dazzle
With their most terrifying muzzle
With their heads all shaven equally short
These rats are of the radical sort.

This radical mob
Knows nothing about God.
Their offspring are not baptised
And their women are communised.

These sensuous rats, en masse
Booze and devour with no class,
And while so doing, don't remember at all
How immortal is our soul.

Such raving bunch of rats
Fears neither hell nor cats,
It has no fortune, nothing in the purse
And again wishes to divide the universe

The wandering rats, Oh horror!
Are already 'round the corner,
They approach, I have good reason
To believe that their name is legion.

Oh horror! Our hope evaporates
They are already at the gates!
Both the mayor and the senate
Shake their heads, quite desperate.

The citizens organise their defence,
And the clergy rings the bells.
The Palladium is in great danger
So are the moral state and all what's there.

Neither the sound of the bells nor holy prayer
Neither the wisest of the senate's endeavour
Nor the cannons with their heaviest shell
Today can help you surmount this hell.

Today the old fashioned oratory art
Won’t help with their twistings whatever smart.
One does not catch rats with syllogism
They overcome the cleverest sophisms.

Their stomachs only admit, at all seasons
Soups of logic and dumpling reasons.
They admit only roast beef argumentation
Coupled with Göttinger sausages quotations.

A silent dried cod, sautéed in butter and fat
Is likely to suit the radical rat
Much better than a Mirabeau
And all orators since Cicero.