There is a legend of the Levantine,
That once a certain Rat, weary of strife,
Retired into a Dutch cheese, calm, serene,
Far from the bustle and the cares of life.
In solitude extreme, dim stretching far and wide,
The hermit dwelt in all tranquillity,
And worked so well with feet and teeth inside,
Shelter and food were his in certainty.
What need of more? Soon he grew fat with pride;
God showers his blessings upon those who pay
Their vows to him in faith. There came, one day,
A pious deputy, from Ratdom sent,
To beg some trilling alms, because their town—
Ratopolis—was leaguered with intent
Most deadly; they, without a crown,
Had been obliged to fly,—so indigent
Was the assailed republic. Little ask
The scared ambassadors—the succour sure,
In a few days: the loan was no hard task.
"My friend," the hermit cried. "I can endure
No more the things of this world. What have I,
A poor recluse, to give you, but a prayer?
I yield you patiently unto His care."
And then he shut the door, quite tranquilly.
Who do I mean, then, by this selfish Rat?
A monk?—no, sir; a dervish is more fat.
A monk, where′er in this world he may be,
Is always full, you know, of charity.