The Rat That Withdrew From The World (Trans. De La Fontaine)

The Levantines in legends say
There was a rat who turned away
From worldly cares and mortal strife
To live a holy hermit’s life.

His hermitage was a round Dutch cheese
On which he’d used his expertise
With tooth and claw to make a nest
Wherein to feast and take his rest.

This rat grew fat and rather stout
For God is good to souls devout.
One day there came a deputation
To this great soul, from the rattish nation

Seeking alms with which to bribe
An army of the feline tribe
Which was encamped around their city,
A cruel foe that would not pity

Their baby rats or much loved does.
“We’ll pay you back, God only knows! ”
The august person hummed and haw’d,
He said their case was truly hard

But his own funds, alas, were meant
To cushion his retirement—
Provision for a rainy day,
So his advice to them was: Pray

For heaven’s help in their sad plight
And God would surely set things right.
He blessed them all and then withdrew
Now that he’d told them what to do.

How would you rate this noble rat—
A Christian saint or a diplomat?
A Christian saint he could not be
For Christians preach charity.

by Pete Crowther

Comments (1)

A brilliant translation of a symbolic piece of brilliance. susie.