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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

Equality of Man and Beast

From “Atta Troll”

WOULD that I, alas! could once more

Lick thy well-belovèd muzzle,

My dear Mumma, which so sweetly

Stroked me over, as with honey!

Would that I again could snuffle

That sweet smell, thy own peculiar,

Oh, my dear and swarthy Mumma,

Charming as the scent of roses!

But, alas! my Mumma’s pining

In the fetters of those rascals,

Who, the name of men adopting,

Deem themselves creation’s masters.

Death and hell! these men unworthy,

Aristocracy’s arch-emblems,

Look down on the an’mal kingdom

Proudly and disdainfully;

Take away our wives and children,

Fetter us, ill-treat us, even

Kill us, for the sake of selling

Our poor hide and our poor carcass!

And they think themselves permitted

Wicked deeds like this to practise

’Gainst us bears especially;

And the “rights of man” they call it!

“Rights of man,” indeed! Fine rights, these!

Tell me who bestow’d them on you?

Nature certainly ne’er did so,

For she’s not unnatural!

“Rights of man,” indeed! Who gave you

This great privilege, I wonder?

Reason certainly ne’er did so,

For she’s not unreasonable!

Men, pray, are ye any better

Than we others, just for eating

All your dinners boil’d or roasted?

In a raw state we eat ours;

Yet is the result the same

To us both. No, food can never

Make one noble; he is noble

Who both nobly feels and acteth.

Men, pray are ye any better

Just because the arts and science

With success ye follow? We, now,

Never give ourselves the trouble.

Are there not such things as learnèd

Dogs, and horses too, who reckon

Just like councilors of commerce?

Do not hares the drum play finely?

Are not many beavers adepts

In the art of hydrostatics?

Were not clysters first invented

By the cleverness of storks?

Write not asses criticisms?

Are not apes all good comedians?

Is there any greater mimic

Than Batavia, long-tail’d monkey?

Are not nightingales good singers?

And is Freiligrath a poet

Who can sing of lions better

Than his countryman the camel?

I myself the art of dancing

Have advanced as much as Raumer

That of writing. Writes he better

Than I dance—yes, I, the bear?

Men, why are ye any better

Than we others? Upright hold ye,

It is true, your heads, but in them

Low-born thoughts are ever creeping.

Men, pray are ye any better

Than are we, because your skin is

Smooth and glist’ning? This advantage

Ye but share with every serpent.

Human race, two-leggèd serpents!

Well I see the reason why ye

Breeches wear; with foreign wool ye

Hide your serpent-nakedness!

Children, guard yourselves against those

Hairless and misshapen creatures!

My dear daughters, never marry

Any monster that wears breeches!


If each bear but thought as I do,

If all beasts but thought so too,

With united forces would we

Take up arms against the tyrants.

Then the bear would form alliance

With the horse, the elephant

Twine his trunk in loving fashion

Round the valiant ox’s horn.

Bear and wolf of every color,

Goat and monkey, e’en the hare,

For a time would work in common,

And our triumph would be certain.

Union! union is th’ essential

Requisite. Alone, we’re conquered

Easily, but, joined together,

We would overreach the tyrants.

Union! Union! And we’ll triumph,

And monopoly’s vile sway

Be o’erthrown, and we’ll establish

A just kingdom for us beasts.

Full equality for all, then,

Of God’s creatures, irrespective

Of their faith, or skin, or odor,

Be its fundamental maxim!

Strict equality! Each donkey

Be entitled to high office;

On the other hand, the lion

Carry to the mill the sack.

As respects the dog, indeed he

Is a very servile rascal,

Since for centuries has man

Like a dog ne’er ceased to treat him.

Yet in our free state we’ll give him

Once again his olden rights,

His prescriptive birthright, and he

Soon again will be ennobled.

Yes, the Jews shall then enjoy, too,

All the rights of citizens,

And by law be made the equals

Of all other sucking creatures.

Only, dancing in the market

For the Jew shall not be lawful;

This amendment I insist on

In the interest of my art.

For a sense of style, of rigid

Plastic art in motion’s wanting

To that race, who really ruin

What there is of public taste.