Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > German
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XII: German
The Great Crab of Lake Mohrin
By August Kopisch (1799–1853)
IN the town of Mohrin they never sleep,
But day and night in the lake they peep;
May no good Christian e’er live to see
The day when the monstrous crab gets free!
    He’s fastened in the lake there        5
      With fetters down below,
    Else would he work the country
      A dreadful, dreadful wo!
The creature’s miles in length, they say,
And oft turns over, and wo’s the day        10
When once he gets loose—yes, once on land,
No power that can his march withstand!
    For, as advancing backward
      ’S the way with crabs, you know,
    Why backward, willy-nilly,        15
      All things with him must go.
Such going backward that will be!
The meat you put in your mouth—d’ye see?—
Will not stay there, but straightway trot
Back to the plate, and then to the pot.        20
    The bread will turn to wheat again,
      The meal will turn to corn,
    And everything will be just what
      It was before ’twas born.
The timber from the house’ll get free,        25
Go back to the woods, a rustling tree;
The tree will creep back to a shoot as of yore;
The mortar will turn to lime once more.
    The ox will be a calf again,
      The calf go back to the cow,        30
    And the cow again, in her turn,
      Be what the calf is now.
Back to the flower will go the wax;
The shirt being worn will turn to flax,
The flax to linseed change, and then        35
Under the ground be buried again.
    And then the city’s mayor
      Will alter quite, they say;
    The people all shall see him
      A sucking babe that day;        40
And after him the aldermen,
And all the magnificent copyists then;
And the corporation stripped shall be
Of its corporate capacity.
    The master on the school-bench        45
      Will sit, a scholar small—
    In short, the world grow back
      To children, one and all.
All shall return to earth’s green sod,
And each, with Adam, be a clod.        50
The feathered folk will longest exist,
And then, like the rest, will cease to resist.
    The hen will be a chicken,
      And into the egg crawl back,
    Which the great crab instanter        55
      With his long tail will crack.
Heaven grant we never so far may get!
The world is living and thriving yet;
Good care is observed by the powers that be
That the exiled old crab shall never be free.        60
    Just think how my poor ditty
      Would come to a wretched fate,
    Drawn through Fame’s trumpet’s mouthpiece,
      Back to the inkhorn straight!

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