In this poem, Heine mocks a number of individuals
(see notes) that were associated with a German
student league (Burschenschaft), a nationalist
organization that Heine joined enthusiastically, but then
left because he found it to be xenophobic and anti-Semitic.
This poem is packed with obscure jokes at the expense of
Heine's contemporaries.

The World Turned Upside Down

By Heinrich Heine

So that's the world turned upside down,
We're topsy-turvy, cousins!
And now it seems that snipes are shooting
Hunters by the dozens.

The calves now barbeque the cook,
And steeds upon men are riding;
For academic freedom now
The Catholic owl is fighting.

Now Häring is a sansculotte,
Bettina a truthful sage is,
A Puss in Boots has managed to
Bring Sophocles to the stages.

An ape erects a pantheon
And German heroes swell it.
Herr Maßmann has just combed his hair,
So German papers tell it.

The German bears have lost their faith,
Denying God's existence;
French parrots, on the other hand,
Are now become good Christians.

The Uckermarker Moniteur
Has gone so far, it's painful:
A dead man, for a live one, wrote
An epitaph most disdainful.

Ye brothers! Swim not against the tide,
It does no good complaining,
Let us ascend the Templow Hill,
"Long live the king!" proclaiming.

 Posted by permission of the translator ~ © 2005


1. Wilhelm Häring (Pseudonym: Willibald Alexis) (1798-1871) An associate of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in the Burschenschaft.

2. Bettine: Bettina von Arnim (1785 - 1859)

3. "A pantheon for German heroes" refers to Walhalla, built by King Ludwig of Bavaria.

4. Maßmann, Hans Ferdinand, (1797-1874) Prof. Dr. phil. Achieved some fame as a gymnast, and was associated with Jahn and the Burschenschaft. In 1828 he was awarded a professorship in Munich that Heine had hoped to obtain for himself. Maßmann is a favorite butt of Heine's jokes throughout his works.

5. The "epitaph" refers to "The Dead to the Living," a poem by Ferdinand Freiligrath, for which he was prosecuted, but acquitted, in 1848.

6. The Templow Hill in Berlin, now called the Kreuzberg, was the site of a memorial for the Liberation Wars.

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