Heine's poem Disputation, about a battle of logic between a Rabbi and a Franciscan monk, to decide whether Christianity or Judaism is the more legitimate religion. The defeated will take on the religion of his adversary. (excerpted from p. 131 - 135 of Jewish Stories and Hebrew Melodies)

Underneath a golden awning

Where the courtiers swarm and swirl,

There the king and queen are sitting –

She is like a little girl.


There's a Gallic little snub nose, 

Roguish giggles on her face,

And enchanting are her lips where

Smiling rubies glow with grace.


Beautiful and fragile flower – 

May God shield her from all pain!–

Hapless girl, to be transplanted

From the gay banks of the Seine


To the stiff and starchy circles

Of Castile's highborn grandees;

Once called Blanche of Bourbon, now it's

Donna Blanca, if you please.


Pedro is the king's name – he is

Called "the Cruel" by his foes;

But today his mood is milder

Than this appellation shows.


He behaves with high good humor

Midst the courtiers en bloc;

For the Jews and Moors he also

Has civilities in stock.


These foreskinless knights are special

Favored flunkeys of the king's:

They command his armies, and they

Run finance and suchlike things.


Now a sudden drum roll rumbles

And the trumpets loud proclaim

That the oral contest's starting

With two athletes in the game.


The Franciscan head, commencing 

In a pious rage, combines

Both a tone of vulgar bluster

With a trick of noisome whines.


In the name of Father, Son and 

Holy Ghost, he exorcises

Both the rabbi and all Jacob's 

Cursed seed in all its guiese;


For in such debates one finds that

Little devils often hide

In the Jews, and give them sharpened

Wits and arguments beside.


Having thus expelled the devils 

By the might of exorcism,

Now the monk takes up dogmatics

And fires off the catechism.


He explains that in the Godhead

There are three personae – three –

Who, however, when convenient

Turn into a Unity.


It's a mystery that only

Can be grasped if you dispense

With the reason's mental shackles

And the prison house of sense.


He explains that God was born at 

Bethlehem, conceived in fact

By the Virgin, who kept always

Her virginity intact;


How the Lord lay in the manger,

Calf and heifer at his side

Standing by devout and pious –

Two dumb cattle, oxen-eyed.


He explained the Lord fled Herod's

Myrmidons, to the domain

Of old Egyptland, and later

Suffered death's most cruel pain


Under Pilate who agreed to 

Sign the sentence, so to please

All the Jews who drove him to it,

The hardhearted Pharisees.


He explained how God had risen

From his grave of rayless night

On the third day of his death, and

Up to Heaven took his flight;


And how, comes the time, however,

He'll return with awesome tread

To Jehoshaphat for judgement

Of the living and the dead.


To be continued!