You Dirty Rats


Rats? Don't try to make me laugh -
They've practically become a cult:
You won't stop Roland Rat's arf arf
With cyanide or catapult.

Nor will you find the foolish child
To stigmatise the stars of Nimh,
Or think Norvegicus 'defiled' -
I cite you Splinter. Think of him -

He gave the Mutant Turtles name
(Italian painters, too, no less).
Take Midnight Cowboy's Ratso's fame:
The anti-hero hero, yes?

Or Ratty, who, although a vole,
Defies the rodent archetype?
Sure, all rats reek of heart and soul
And not of rancid sewer pipe.

The Desert Rats, The Boomtown Rats,
The Water Rats of charity -
You cannot write off rats like bats
(Of known unpopularity).

And, after all, which mammal in
The Piper's Tale does one support?
Who is the hit of Hamelin?
The rat, of course, I should have thought.

So let us praise their teeth, how sleek
Their fur is, how their feet are fleet,
What brains they boast, and how they're chic:
And open drains beneath each street.



From the book Send-Up