The Sad Tale of the Matchbox

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The Sad Tale of the Matchbox is an old German nursery rhyme that has been translated a bozillion times, most famoulsy (and most enjoyably in my personal opinion) by Mark Twain. Here is the poem below:

 

The Sad Tale of the Matchbox

 

(original by Heinrich Hofmann, Translation by Mark Twain)

 

Paulinchen was alone at home,
The parents they downtown did roam.
as she now through the room did spring,
All light of heart and soul a wing,
she saw wherewith one strikes a light.

 

“Oho,” says she. “My hopes awake;
Ah what a plaything these will make !
I'll rake them on the wall, h'oo !
As oft I've seen my Mother do.”

 

And Mintz and Mountz, the catties,
Lift up their little patties,
They threaten with their pawses:
“It's against the lawses !
Meyow ! Meyo ! Meyow ! Meyo !
You'll burn yourself to ashes, O !”

 

Paulinchen heard the catties not,
The match did burn both bright and hot,
It crackled gaily, sputtered free,
as you it in the picture see.
Paulinchen waltzed and whirled and spun,
Near mad with joy for what she'd done.

 

Still Mintz and Mountz, the catties,
Lift up their little patties,
They threaten with their pawses:
“It is against the lawses !
Meyow ! Meyo ! Meyow ! Meyo !
Drop it or you are ashes, O !”

But ah, the flame it caught her clothes,
Her apron, too; and higher rose;
Her hand is burnt, her hair's afire,
Consumed is that child entire.

 

And Mintz and Mountz wild crying,
The while the child was frying,
“Come quick !” they said. “O Sire.
Your darling child's afire !
Meyow ! Meyo ! Meyow ! Meyo !
She's cinders, soot, and ashes, O !”

 

Consumed is all, so sweet and fair,
The total child, both flesh and hair,
a pile of ashes, two small shoes,
Is all that's left, and they're no use.

 

And Mintz and Mountz sit sighing,
With breaking hearts and crying,
“Meyow ! Meyo ! Meyow ! Meyo !
How could we let the parents know !”
While round that ash pile glowing
In brooks their tears keep flowing.
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