'You're a little imp!' we say of a child
Who may be rather rude and wild.
We say it rather tenderly,
To the 'little imp' in our family.
And yet, in Germany of yore,
Imps, appearing in old folk-lore
We're rather nasty little creatures,
With crafty minds and ugly features.
Admittedly they were lesser sprites
Than the evil Demons who gave men bites,
Stole their children and scared their wives,
And made a mess of the peoples' lives.
Imps were, in a way, depressed,
They even longed to be caressed;
To get attention they acted badly,
Jumping out and laughing madly;
Hiding in boxes and under beds,
Tearing the newly-washed sheets to shreds.
Like children they got up to pranks;
Knotting the Granny's knitting hanks,
Making the milk in the pail go sour,
Putting insects in the flour!
But these 'little ones' were not attractive,
Just wild and silly and hyperactive.
A toddler human is quite delicious;
These little imps could be malicious.
But it shows that people then understood,
That the needy aren't always the good;
That a cry for help can come from a soul
That seems to others as black as coal.
That the ugly, the wicked, the dispossessed
May need affection more than the rest.
The old-time Germans, it seems to me,
Knew a great deal of psychology!
There was a time when I believed.....here: