The Journalists And Minos.

A poem by Friedrich Schiller

I chanced the other eve,
But how I ne'er will tell,
The paper to receive.
That's published down in hell.

In general one may guess,
I little care to see
This free-corps of the press
Got up so easily;

But suddenly my eyes
A side-note chanced to meet,
And fancy my surprise
At reading in the sheet:

"For twenty weary springs"
(The post from Erebus,
Remark me, always brings
Unpleasant news to us)

"Through want of water, we
Have well-nigh lost our breath;
In great perplexity
Hell came and asked for Death;

"'They can wade through the Styx,
Catch crabs in Lethe's flood;
Old Charon's in a fix,
His boat lies in the mud,

"'The dead leap over there,
The young and old as well;
The boatman gets no fare,
And loudly curses hell.'

"King Minos bade his spies
In all directions go;
The devils needs must rise,
And bring him news below.

"Hurrah! The secret's told
They've caught the robber's nest;
A merry feast let's hold!
Come, hell, and join the rest!

"An author's countless band,
Stalked round Cocytus' brink,
Each bearing in his hand
A glass for holding ink.

"And into casks they drew
The water, strange to say,
As boys suck sweet wine through
An elder-reed in play.

"Quick! o'er them cast the net,
Ere they have time to flee!
Warm welcome ye will get,
So come to Sans-souci!

"Smelt by the king ere long,
He sharpened up his tooth,
And thus addressed the throng
(Full angrily, in truth):

"'The robbers is't we see?
What trade? What land, perchance?'
'German news-writers we!'
Enough to make us dance!

"'A wish I long have known
To bid ye stop and dine,
Ere ye by Death were mown,
That brother-in-law of mine.

"'Yet now by Styx I swear,
Whose flood ye would imbibe,
That torments and despair
Shall fill your vermin-tribe!

"'The pitcher seeks the well,
Till broken 'tis one day;
They who for ink would smell,
The penalty must pay.

"'So seize them by their thumbs,
And loosen straight my beast
E'en now he licks his gums,
Impatient for the feast.'

"How quivered every limb
Beneath the bull-dog's jaws
Their honors baited him,
And he allowed no pause.

"Convulsively they swear,
Still writhe the rabble rout,
Engaged with anxious care
In pumping Lethe out."

Ye Christians, good and meek,
This vision bear in mind;
If journalists ye seek,
Attempt their thumbs to find.

Defects they often hide,
As folks whose hairs are gone
We see with wigs supplied
Probatum! I have done!

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