The Electoral Asses

By Heinrich Heine

They'd had enough of freedom now,
The republic of animals clamored
For one single regent with absolute rule,
Of this they were enamored.

Every species assembled itself,
Proceeded with fevered devotion,
Parties were organized, ballots drawn up,
Intrigues were set into motion.

The steering committee for asses was
By the Old-Long-Ears directed,
They had upon each of their heads a cockade,
The Schwarz-Rot-Gold, affected.

A little horse's-party there was,
Yet they did not dare be voting,
They feared the cry of the Old-Long-Ears,
The thought filled them all with foreboding.

As one, however, the candidacy
Of the horses put forth, a bit later,
An Old-Long-Ears in a fury broke in
And cried: Sir, you are a traitor!

You are a traitor! There's not one drop
Of donkey-blood in you, really,
You are no donkey, I almost believe
You were foaled by a Latin filly.

You come from a strain of zebra, perhaps,
Your skin is striped zebräic,
And also the nasal tone of your voice
Sounds somewhat Egyptic-Hebräic.

And were you no foreigner, you would be just
A secular donkey, a cold one,
You don't know the depths of the donkey mystique,
How the tones of its psalter enfold one.

But I have immersed my soul in that
Sweet mystery that surpasses,
I am an ass, and upon my tail
Is every hair an ass's.

I 'm no little Roman, I am no Slav,
I'm a German ass forever,
Just like my fathers, they were so upright,
So unassuming, so clever.

They did not play with gallantry,
They sought no vice nor thriller,
They trotted each day, frisky, faithful and free,
Bearing their sacks to the miller.

The fathers are not dead! The grave
Can only hold the carcass.
They look down upon us from heaven above,
It gives them pleasure to mark us.

Transfigured asses in heavenly light!
We'll follow you forever.
And not a single finger-breadth
From duty's path shall we waver.

And oh, what rapture, to be an ass!
To be born to the Long-Ear classes!
From every rooftop I want to cry:
I come from a line of asses.

The mighty donkey that sired me
Was German, and no other,
And I was suckled on ass's milk
By my German ass of a mother.

I am an ass, and will faithfully
Adhere, like my fathers before me,
To the dear, old asininity,
To the fabled donkey glory.

And as I'm an ass, I advise you to choose
An ass as the king of the land here;
We're founding the mighty donkey-realm,
Where only the asses command here.

We all are asses! Hee-haw, hee-haw!
We'll never be horse's flunkies.
Down with the stallions! Long live, hurrah!
The king from the race of the donkeys!

So spake the patriot. In the hall
Applause rang to the ceiling.
The asses were all nationalists
And stamped their hooves with feeling.

They placed upon the speaker's head
A wreath of oak so timely.
He mutely beamed his gratitude
And wagged his tail sublimely.

 Posted by permission of the translator ~ © 1998

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