When through valley and o’er mountain
Howls the storm at dead of night,
Clambering over roof and chimney,
Hiddigeigei seeks the height,
Spectre-like aloft he stands there,
Fairer than he ever seems;
From his eyes the fire-flame sparkles,
From his bristling hair it streams.
And he lifts his voice, and wildly
Sings an old cat-battle song,
That, like far-off thunder rolling,
Sweeps the storm-vexed night along.
Never a child of man can hear it –
Each sleeps heedless in his house;
But, deep down in darkest cellar,
Hears, and paling, quakes the mouse.
Well she knows the greybeard’s war-cry,
Knows the cry she trembles at,
Feels how fearful in his fury
Is the grand old hero-cat.
From the tower’s topmost angle
On the world I turn my eyes –
Mark, serene, the factions wrangle,
And the parties fall and rise.
And the keen cat’s eyes they see there –
And the cat’s soul feels the joke—
What dull pranks they cut beneath there,
All those petty pigmy-folk.
But what use? For I can’t make ‘em
See things from my point of view;
Even should the devil take ‘em,
‘Twill but be the devil’s due.
Human nature! who can bear it?
Crooked ways and wicked wiles!
Wrapped in consciousness of merit,
Sits the tom-cat on the tiles!
~By Joseph Victor Von Scheffel,
(from Der Tromp eter von Sakkingen, 1880, translated from German).