The Rat Retired from the World (French Folk Tale)

Folk Tales, French Folk Tales3280

The sage Levantines have a tale

About a rat that weary grew

Of all the cares which life assail,

And to a Holland cheese withdrew.

His solitude was there profound,

Extending through his world so round.

Our hermit lived on that within;

And soon his industry had been

With claws and teeth so good,

That in his novel hermitage,

He had in store, for wants of age,

Both house and livelihood.

One day this personage devout,

Whose kindness none might doubt,

Was ask”d, by certain delegates

That came from Rat-United-States,

For some small aid, for they

To foreign parts were on their way,

For succour in the great cat-war.

Ratopolis beleaguer”d sore,

Their whole republic drain”d and poor,

No morsel in their scrips they bore.

Slight boon they craved, of succour sure

In days at utmost three or four.

“My friends,” the hermit said,

“To worldly things I'm dead.

How can a poor recluse

To such a mission be of use?

What can he do but pray

That God will aid it on its way?

And so, my friends, it is my prayer

That God will have you in his care.”

His well-fed saintship said no more,

But in their faces shut the door.

What think you, reader, is the service

For which I use this stingy rat?

To paint a monk? No, but a dervish

A monk, I think, however fat,

Must be more bountiful than that.

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