By Theodor Etzel and Hanns Heinz Ewers 1901 (TE)
(Der Affe und die Rinder)
From “Ein Fabelbuch”
Translated by Joe E. Bandel
Copyright 2009 by Joe E. Bandel

The Monkey And The Herd Of Cattle

The miraculous trained monkey from the nearby circus ran into the barn precisely at noon. The cattle lay far and wide in their own shit enjoying themselves with idiotic cud chewing. They took the last eaten fodder and regurgitated it once more into their mouths to more thoroughly chew and digest it properly.

The clever monkey thought he would perform for the cattle and gave his best doing some very queer things. He danced the minuet, stood on his head, ran in circles, and did summersaults, cartwheels and death defying leaps.

The oxen, the cows and even the young calves stared stupidly at him–as if they could do such things. There was no loud applause–only the strong movement of their jaws as they started chewing again. The monkey watched as they all went back to chewing and asked the nearest ox:

“What does it mean when you dance all the time with your jaws, grind your teeth and flick your tongues? Good heavens! It is the only sound in this entire muggy cattle pen!”

The ox laughed out of its mouth so the entire barn could hear, “You stupid show-off, you! Is that all you can do? Did you think you could dazzle and bewilder us with your antics when you don’t even understand about chewing your cud? You call us cattle dumb–and yet every calf can do so much more than you can! You see, your skill is only half of it!”

The monkey thought he could show them how clever he was, yet the cattle’s broad laughter followed him in the distance as he left.

The Poodle


The Poodle


My black poodle Alarich

Gives me constant reason to complain,


For example, today he once again

Behaved terribly!


So I called my poodle over

And gave him a good talking to:

“Now pay attention! This can’t

Keep going on forever, old Swede!


The entire city is full of you

And wishes you would be taken by the devil!


There you took the cheese away

And here you have stolen a pork chop!


In the city park you bother

Dozens of painters

And chase the ducks—but then

I have to pay the fine!


The day before yesterday you tore

Up the foreman’s Sunday lawn,

And today the first thing you did

Was bite the Jeweler’s pretty little rabbit to death!


And each girl dog passes

Carefully by you, you old sinner,

You old lecher, you!—they say,

You have at least five dozen children!


Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?—Here, look at me,

You dirty scoundrel, you unrepentant!”

—at that the poodle acted like a human

And smiled cleverly:


“—and you, Herr Doctor?”



The Little Tailor and Death

Philipp Fipps, the little tailor,

Was never happy in life,

Peevishly he sewed the clothing,

Trousers, jacket and vest.

He was exceptionally dissatisfied,

With his destined existence,

When he had so eagerly counted upon

His becoming a great Lord.


Philipp Fips, the little tailor,

Sighed once more: “Ach!

Unfortunately I am just a tailor,

What a terrible injustice!

Instead of always toiling for others,

I would rather wear the suit myself.

No! I would rather be dead

Than do such drudgery!”


Philipp Fips, the little tailor,

Had scarcely made his wish,

Behold! Throat cutting Death

Appeared with his scythe.

His ribs rattled fearfully,

And it rolled out of his bony lips:

“Why do you call me at this hour?

I shall fulfill your wish!”


Philipp Fips, the little tailor,

As Death stood in front of him,

Fell in fright onto his clothing,

Stammered in fear and desperation:

“Friend—I thought—you must—be freezing,

I want to treat you to a jacket,

Trousers and vest and also

Anything else that is of service!”


Philipp Fips, the little tailor,

Gathered together what he found;

Gave friend Hein the finest clothing

In his thin bony hand.

And then requested for payment,

That Death spare him for a long time;

And even offered him three coins,

All that he owned.


Philipp Fips, the little tailor,

Gave him, when he still didn’t leave,

His own Sunday clothing and

A golden wedding ring as well,

And was willing to give his shirt and stockings,

From off his naked body.

—Grinning at the tailor’s distress

Death clattered on out.

*   *  *

Philipp Fips, the little tailor,

Like so many in the world:

He scolded and cried in dissatisfaction,

Nothing in life pleased him,

Requested only after Death.

But when he came

The crier clung solid as a chain

To life’s smallest remnants.

The Tiger and the Polecat

A polecat, whose empty belly

Had already been growling for several days,

Finally broke his hunger pangs completely

In a chicken coop.

The feathered animals defended themselves

And scratched sharply, and bit and screamed

And tore out many of his hairs—

And pecked one of his eyes out—

All by themselves, but in the end:

The entire flock lay on the floor;

He had torn out hundreds of feathers

And bitten through a couple dozen throats.

He made off with the bloody scraps

And with great effort carried his rich plunder

With many trips over the path

From out of the chicken coop

Into his hiding place in the nearby forest

And thought to enjoy his

Hard earned supper in silence.

“Look here, look here!”  a tiger cried out to him,

“Permit me to greet you. Could you give me a little?

All I have had to eat for supper was a little lamb,

I still have a bit of an appetite

And would be very happy to eat

A little chicken for desert!”

And without bothering to ask,

He took the first hen with his claws.

Snap! It was gone—the second went

The same way—and also the third—

And before the polecat really knew

What was going on,

The tiger was eating them all, one by one.

“Herr Tiger,” spoke the polecat dully,

“Excuse me—isn’t it true that you are really fat now?

Could you leave one little, tiny chicken,

So that I might enjoy it?

I’ve already fasted for three long days;

And with hard battle and much trouble

And the last of my power,

I was able to pull it off.

I ask you; leave the last little chicken for me,

The one which you have spared till the last.”

—The tiger licked his whiskers:

“It makes me sad, my good animal,

Yet, I really see no reason at all,

Why I should let you have this silly little chicken.

Just because you want it, is no reason

Why you should have it.

It’s true that I am already fat,

The little chicken’s mother alone tasted

Very good to me—the little daughters

Were also very tender!—Yet, I don’t think you

Should hold a grudge against me,

My dear man, when,

As I said before, I don’t see one reason,

Why I should let another,

Eat what I myself can still eat!”

—Snap! That little chicken too disappeared

Into the taught belly of the tiger.

The polecat made a stupid face,

He stood there in astonishment—and didn’t believe it.

Exactly the same deliciously stupid face

That the diligent Bergmann made and didn’t know it,

When Madame Industry

Prospered with each day.

“You want bread? Meat even?—Ah no,

That won’t do!—I hope you do not

Hold a grudge, against me, my good man,

Yet, I really see no reason at all,

Why I should let another,

Eat what I myself can still eat!”

tiger and polecat

The Dung Beetle

A dung beetle inherited a large dung heap in Africa from his papa as well as a silver coin. (Earlier it had been shiny, but now it was tarnished from lying in shit for many years, there where it was the thickest.)

The beetle was fat and round as a barrel; he glistened with fatty oil and was very healthy, and even though no one else knew, was richer than any of the other beetles!

—And yet his poor heart was sick, he might well be rich, but—he stank! And where ever he went, people held their noses.

Then he ordered Opponponar, Eau de Nice and a hundred other perfumes from out of Paris; yet it did him little good—the smell of shit penetrated through the well drenched handkerchiefs! “So the beetle cried night and day, until a dervish advised him:

“Polish your silver coin, and sit on it—then the stench will be gone forever!”

The beetle listened and dug into the shit until he found his silver coin. He polished it until it was shiny and put it on top of his fine dung heap, then sat down on it.

—A miracle! The most beautiful insects came running quickly from all sides. The grasshoppers sang, the bees licked his wings—and the scorpion said to him:

“Mein Herr Baron!”

Yes, even the proud butterfly bowed most deeply.

—And the beetle took a fly, delicate and trusting, as his bride. Then he sat there, the silver coin under his bottom, and smiled contentedly: “No stink!”



The Fox, Wolf and Lynx


The fox, wolf and lynx were reveling in the forest under the green trees after a brotherly raid; jumping around, dancing and turning summersaults. Then the slinky lynx went flying up a thick tree, and after a short while came back in a whirlwind.


The clever fox praised him loudly. Yet the wolf spoke jealously to the lynx:


“I bet you a cow, that I can do that better than you! —because I am stronger!”


—And he swiftly wrapped his paws around the bark and trunk from behind and began to climb. Yet, soon the wolf tumbled back with a crash! Oh how the fox laughed when he saw him fall!


And full of anger the wolf tried climbing the tree a second time—until he again fell back onto the ground even harder than before. The fox rolled up into a ball with laughter.


At that the wolf became even angrier and scornfully screamed:


“Why are you laughing at me like that, you animal!—you try if you think you can do better!”—


At that the fox held his belly with laughter:


“I don’t at all pretend to do something that I can’t do. What you have achieved with your audacity, is what is criticized. There is a good reason for you to laugh, not to argue with the critic. Yet your greatest folly; that crowns it all, is when you finally demand of the critic, who is laughing at you, to do it better!”—




In the Chicken Coop

A rooster once invaded a coop with seven young chickens–a sturdy hen and a capon. The rooster quickly started crowing and dug into the sand with his spurs, devoured the food he found and beat the chickens around the ears with his strong and unkempt wings–

Before long the fellow was such a rude roughneck as had never been born! –On the other hand the fine and fancy capon appeared to take leadership. His feather coat was smoothly ironed down and his behavior was tender and restrained. On the first meeting you could tell he was a gentleman from head to foot.

The old hen inspected them both, then called the little hens to the side and spoke in solemn tones:

“I believe that you are in danger! That rooster there is a no-good, a virtue stealer full of outrageous courage. He will only enflame your young blood with his bold jokes. Don’t forget to bless yourselves with three crosses whenever you encounter him!”–

However they could trust the noble capon, the gentleman. He would certainly not dare to do anything bad to them.”–

Then the young hens around the circle bowed their heads, blushed, and swore ardently to the old hen to remain obedient, true and careful. They would remain strong in their belief.

“Who allows only the love of God to hold sway will never have their innocence robbed by a devil.”

And in accordance with their oath the little hens fled from the rooster and when they played in the yard they only called out to the capon. He took great pains to be well mannered and was a good friend to them. It went like that one day after the next. The little hens spoke of him as almost saintly. Yet despite all his fine manners and friendship they found him wickedly boring.

The rooster’s behavior remained as bold, daring and arrogant as ever. Yet they soon found the rooster very interesting in his own way. While he was a boor, he was still a real man that did not bow and flatter them. He was proud to be the stronger.

The little hens received greater happiness from a single glance than from all the capon’s hypocrisy, soul friendship and daydreaming. So despite all their play and kidding love soon came into the hearts of all the little hens.

Before the week was over the first hen was already captive. It was the voluptuous Christina, a noble little hen from Kochinchina. She was found without shame or morals with the rooster there behind the doghouse.

Each and everyone of them out of jealousy, vanity and other drives forgot their pious upbringing and cared only about being popular with the rooster. They kneeled before the man and master. Whatever he requested, they did it gladly–and soon not one virgin remained.

Now things went badly for the capon. They ridiculed their “sweet and distinguished friend” and from earliest morning dawn thought only of ways to kiss their brave rooster.

*              *

Yes, yes! Sweet words and no tail could not excite this brood of women! Sooner or later every true hen will rather meet up with a crude rooster! –


The Young Hound

A young hound once bravely plunged into the river. He splashed along the shore enjoying his newfound skill. A beaver was watching him—

“Hey, look at me, Herr Chew Master, I can really swim!”

The beaver spoke with mild scorn, “Yes, friend, you can really swim. But it’s not pretty!”

So what, the hound thought. He is certainly grumpy! The old water architect must have had a bad breakfast! The beaver left.

Then up came a puffed up turkey-cock. When he saw the hound swimming he shouted out loud:

“Hurrah! How splendidly you can swim. No frog can do any better, no fish or no goose. You are — and no one can deny this — the best swimmer of all time!”

The hound listened to the turkey-cock and his praise. Then it hung its tail very sadly and mournfully left.

When a wise man chides you — — He might be envious and bad tempered!

When an idiot praises you — then it’s really bad!

Yes, if Servaes or Brandes tells me:

“This book is shit!” — I won’t despair; yet if Gottschall praises it —
Then I will quickly throw the beautiful book into a frog pond.

The critics may have the last word, yet I am driver of the bus!

The Stork


The Stork

In the evening sunshine an old stork stood proudly on one leg in the Tschoupitalas swamp. He brooded.

“Is it possible? Can the world become illuminated through Buddha’s old wisdom newly cloaked in the Neo-theosophical garments brought here so recently by Madame Blavatsky?

Is that really the new symbol of the light that used to shine so beautifully over Calcutta? ―Who knows, perhaps God traveled to newer ground, entered into Sören Kierkegaard to show the world a different paradise just as He did for August Comte and Herbert Spencer.

―Perhaps― I almost fear it! ―The arrival, the storm, of the multitudes that sing Nietsche’s song, brandishing their torches and thrusting them into the heavens!


Then his wise glance fell over the swamp. He shuddered in disgust:

The frogs croaked, how ignorant they lived and yet enjoyed such kingly lives!

――His thoughts were interrupted:

“Miserable rabble! The thick mire is so to your taste! ―What is Buddha to you? What troubles do you have? What wise thoughts? It’s so easy for you to come and go as you are! You crawl through the mud and rotting grass, the thick filth is your life’s purpose. You are and remain a toad folk in the mire!”

―― Then a young frog laughed:

“And you, Herr Philosopher and wise stork? You, great light of the Priesthood, deepest thinker of them all, most mighty, learned, radiant and proud of animals:

―― You are stuck here in the same swamp that we are!”

In a Carp Pond


In a Carp Pond

–In a carp pond once swam a pale blue and soft slimy water corpse.
A young carp came up to it and began to talk as follows:

“Ah, undone human! Certainly the flames that come from pining for love scorched your poor senses and drove you into the water!”

Another carp heard his lament and broke in contemptuously to say:

“Nonsense! He was drunk and fell into the pond by accident.”

–However an ancient centenarian boy rejoiced at the godsend. He spoke no word, just ate and ate, forgot the rest of the world and thought:

“There has never been such a beautiful, slimy-soft and pale blue water corpse in this pond.”