Yet it may be advantageous
For the one belonging to a
Higher breedstock, just to know what
Might be going on below him.
Yes, below him in the dismal
Sphere of woe, the lower social
Strata of the beastly kingdom,
There breeds rancor, squalor, pride.
What's been natural-historic,
For some many thousand years, may
Be undone by saucy muzzles.
So the old ones growl unto the
Young ones heresy most wicked,
Threatening humanity and
Culture here upon the earth.
"Children" - rumbles Atta Troll,
And he wallows to and fro
On the bare and stony litter -
"To our kind belongs the future!
Were each bear and were each other
Animal to think as I,
With united forces we should
Wage a fight against the tyrants.
Let the boar conjoin his powers
With the horse, the elephant
Wind his trunk with love fraternal
'Round the doughty oxen's horn;
Bear and wolf, of ev'ry color,
Buck and monkey, and the rabbit,
Working for a time in concert,
Victory could not elude us.
Unity, the first requirement
Of our time. While separate, we
Were their servants, in alliance
We'll outwit the lords of power.
Unity! and then we triumph,
Down shall fall the regiment
Of the snide monopoly! We'll
Found a fair and beastly realm.
Basic law shall be alikeness
Of God's creatures, one and all,
No distinction made of faith, and
None of pelts, and none of odors.
Strict equality! Each donkey
Authorized for high state office,
And the lion shall, in contrast,
Trot the feed-sack to the miller.
As concerns the dog, he is most
Likely a submissive pooch,
For throughout the centuries did
Humans treat him like a dog;
But in our Free State, we'll give him
Back his everlasting rights, the
Rights which can't be alienated,
And he soon shall be ennobled.
Yes, and even Jews shall have them,
They'll enjoy full civil rights,
And by law be viewed as equals
Of the other mammal species.
Only dancing at the markets
Still shall be forbidden to them;
I am making this amendment
In the int'rests of mine art.
For, the sense of style, of forming
Strict development of motion,
This the Jewish race is lacking,
They would ruin the public taste."
Gloomy, in the gloomy cave,
With his trusted circle crouches
Atta Troll, the foe of humans,
And he growls and bares his teeth:
"Humans, O ye saucy rascals!
Only smile! And from your smiling,
Just as from your subjugation,
Shall the mighty day redeem us!
I've been stung by that incessant,
Sugary yet sour twitching
Of the mouth - beyond endurance
Is for me that human-smiling!
When I've seen that awkward twitching
Play upon the pallid visage,
My intestines twist, indignant,
All about within my belly.
Even more impertinently
Than through words by far, the human's
Smile reveals the deepest sort of
Insolence within his soul.
They are always smiling! Even
Where decorum doth require
Deepest earnestness, for instance,
During love's most solemn moment!
They are always smiling! Even
In the dance itself, profaning
In such manner this great art,
That should stay a sacred cult.
Yes, the dance, in olden times, it
Was a pious act of faith;
All around the altar turned and
Spun the holy, priestly round dance.
At the Covenantal Ark did
Dance, in days of yore, King David;
Dancing was a godly service,
It was praying with one's legs!
Thus have I, just like the others,
E'er regarded dance, whilst dancing
At the markets for the folk who
Cheered me with great acclamation.
This applause, I must confess it,
Touched me in my heart quite often;
To compel the admiration
Of the foe, now, that is sweet!
Yet, though they may be impassioned,
Still they're smiling. Dancing art is
Impotent to make them better,
Frivolous shall they remain."
Many citizens of virtue
Smell quite bad upon this earth, while
Lackeys wear the sweet perfumes of
Lavender and ambergris.
There are souls so virginal that
Still are reeking of green soap,
While, at times, degraded Vice has
Washed with essences of roses.
So, don't crinkle up your noses,
Dearest readers, if the cave of
Atta Troll does not remind you
Of Arabia's delicacies.
Stay here in the hazy circle,
In the turbid foul aromas,
Where the hero, to his son, as
If from out a cloud doth speak:
"Child, my child, thou youngest offspring
Of my loins, now lay thy one ear
On the snout of thy begetter
And absorb my earnest words!
Guard thyself 'gainst human thinking,
It will spoil thee, soul and body;
Not in all humanity is
There one fair and decent human.
Not the Germans, once the betters,
Not Tuisco's° sons themselves,
Fathers from a time primeval,
All the same, degenerated.
They are faithless now and godless,
Preaching even atheism -
Child, my child, thou must beware of
Feuerbach° and also Bauer!°
Only be no atheist,
Not a non-bear with no awe for
The creator - yes, creator
Of this universe entire!
In the heights, the sun and moon,
And the stars (the ones with tails on
Equally with those without them)
Are reflections of His power.
In the depths of land and ocean
Are the echoes of His glory,
And doth each and ev'ry creature
Praise His majesty with singing.
Yes, the smallest silver louse,
Riding in the aging pilgrim's
Beard upon the pilgrimages,
Sings the praise of the Eternal!
Up there in the starry heavens,
On the gold chair of the ruler,
Governing the world, majestic,
Sits a giant polar bear.
Spotlessly and snow-white gleaming
Is his pelt; upon his head a
Lovely diamond crown adorns him,
Shining brightly through the heavens.
In his visage, harmony
And the silent acts of thinking;
With the scepter beckons he,
And the spheres are tinkling, singing.
At his feet there sit the pious
Bearish saints, who calmly suffered
On the earth, and in their paws are
Palm boughs of their martyrdom.
Sometimes springs up one, and then the
Other, wakened by the Holy
Ghost, and then behold! They're dancing
Such a stately, solemn dance -
Here, where grace is emanating,
Talent is unnecessary,
And for blessédness the soul doth
Seek to jump from out its skin!
And shall I, unworthy Troll,
E'er take part in such salvation?
And from lowly earthly moping
Pass into the realm of rapture?
And shall I, all drunk with heaven,
Up there in the starry regions,
With the glory, with the palm branch,
Dance before the throne of God?"
Like the scarlet-reddish tongue,
That the black and Freiligrathian
Moorish prince, so grim and mocking,
Stuck out from his somber mouth:
Thus the moon emerges from the
Darkened cloudy heavens. Distant
Waterfalls are roaring, ever
Sleepless, peevish in the night.
Atta Troll, upon the summit
Of his cliffs, now stands alone,
Lonely, and he howls, resounding
In the nightwind, in the chasm:
"Yes, I am a bear, I am the
One that ye call shaggy, also
Growler, Isengrim and Petz,°
And God knows what else besides them.
Yes, I am a bear, I am the
Coarse and shambling animal, the
Rustic, rude, and clumsy camel
Of your smiles and your derision!
I'm the butt of all your jokers,
I'm the monster, that ye use to
Frighten children in the evenings,
Naughty children of the humans.
I'm the brutish laughing-stock of
All your old-wives-tales and fables,
And I'll shout it loudly to your
Rude, disdainful world of humans.
Hear it, I'm a bear, and never
Shall my origins abash me!
Proud, as if I were descended
From great Moses Mendelssohn!"º
Posted by permission of the
translator ~ © 2005