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Max and Moritz by Wilhelm Busch

Max and Moritz

A Juvenile History in Seven Tricks


subjects: Children's Picture Books

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Max and Moritz is an illustrated story in verse; highly inventive, blackly humorous tale, told entirely in rhymed couplets, written and illustrated by Wilhelm Busch. It is among the early works of Busch, nevertheless it already features many substantial, effectually aesthetic and formal regularities, procedures and basic patterns of Busch’s later works. Many familiar with comic strip history consider it to have been the direct inspiration for the Katzenjammer Kids. The German title satirizes the German custom of giving a subtitle to the name of dramas in the form of ‘A Drama of … acts’, which became dictums in colloquial usage for any event with an unpleasant or dramatic course, e.g. Federal presidential Elections - Drama in Three Acts.

10 pages with a reading time of ~15 minutes (2686 words), and first published in 1865. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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To most people who have leisure
Raising poultry gives great pleasure
First, because the eggs they lay us
For the care we take repay us;
Secondly, that now and then
We can dine on roasted hen;
Thirdly, of the hen's and goose's
Feathers men make various uses.
Some folks like to rest their heads
In the night on feather beds.

One of these was Widow Tibbets,
Whom the cut you see exhibits.

Hens were hers in number three,
And a cock of majesty.
Max and Maurice took a view;
Fell to thinking what to do.
One, two, three! as soon as said,
They have sliced a loaf of bread,
Cut each piece again in four,
Each a finger thick, no more.
These to two cross-threads they tie,
Like a letter X they lie
In the widow's yard, with care
Stretched by those two rascals there.

Scarce the cock had seen the sight,
When he up and crew with might:
Tack, tack, tack, the trio flew.

Cock and hens, like fowls unfed,
Gobbled each a piece of bread;

But they found, on taking thought,
Each of them was badly caught.

Every way they pull and twitch,
This strange cat's-cradle to unhitch;

Up into the air they fly,
Jiminee, O Jimini!

On a tree behold them dangling,
In the agony of strangling!
And their necks grow long and longer,
And their groans grow strong and stronger.

Each lays quickly one egg more,
Then they cross to th' other shore.

Widow Tibbets in her chamber,
By these death-cries waked from slumber,

Rushes out with bodeful thought:
Heavens! what sight her vision caught!

From her eyes the tears are streaming:
"Oh, my cares, my toil, my dreaming!
Ah, life's fairest hope," says she,
"Hangs upon that apple-tree."

Heart-sick (you may well suppose),
For the carving-knife she goes;
Cuts the bodies from the bough,
Hanging cold and lifeless now
And in silence, bathed in tears,
Through her house-door disappears.

This was the bad boys' first trick,
But the second follows quick.