Meeting Line

Beetle draws a line in the sand
That Worm will never cross.
Beetle and Worm are staring, staring,
Staring until one should blink.

What of the Stick that draws the line?
It only lies on the ground and laughs.
"Look at the funny Beetle!
Look at the funny Worm!"

Beetle and Worm still stand today
On either side of the line.
Staring, staring, staring,
But neither of them can blink!

Translator's comments:

It's natural to interpret this childish, sing-song poem as an allegory for a stalemate between neighboring tribes, a sort of Early Middle Iddish version of the Cold War. Indeed, there are a number of tribal relationships in the known history of that time that could be described as "peacefully tense". What is interesting is that as this poem suggests, rather than resolving the tension through conquest or a formal peace, the Iddish simply came to recognize the stalemate as a fact of life. Thus, today, an Iddish person completely trusts his Mulad neighbor on a conscious level, but simultaneously feels a strange, mild discomfort that is difficult to describe or explain.

Because of this, Iddiland prides itself on being a sort of anti-Balkans--a nation that explicitly acknowledges its ethnic rivalries, and because of that very openness manages to remain unified. It's as if their historical conflicts were more like intermural sports than wars.