The franco-German War.
Out of the North came Thor the Thunderer!
In his blue eyes the lightnings shone :
All the round world in silence beheld him
As he descended from Odin's throne.
Southward straight fared he, the Ruler of Battles—
Swiftly behind the Valkyrior flew:
Through the old Rhineland rustled their pinions,
Till on its borders the war-horns blew.
Where once again the brood of mud giants
Out of their depths had risen to view:
There battle-ready—the great gods defying—
The world-old combat once more to renew.
Slid also southward, Loki the shifty—
Cunningest, craftiest of gods and of men;
Southwards by side-paths, clothed round with darkness,
He slipped into Paris across the plain.
There laid Loki down his divinity,
Took on the French form of mortal race,
Marched down the Boulevards shouting "A Berlin!"
Or singing with ardour the Marseillaise.
Possessed Monsieur About—dwelt in the journalists—
Inspired Le Gaulois with Gallic fire—
Wrote hourly bulletins, edited Figaro,
"Summoned the universe to stand and admire;"
Counselled the councillors, filled them with folly,
Gave to Ollivier his cœur legere;
Sat in the Senate, and cheered on the Ministry,
Instructed each prefect and each loyal maire.
Low laughed Loki, the great mischief-maker—
Laughed when he found his wires pull well :
Laughed to behold Le Bœuf and De Failly
Lead on a nation to the mouth of hell.
Long laughed Loki beholding the Frank land
Under the feet of traitors and knaves—
Shaking beneath them, while with light-heartedness
Slaves of a despot ruled over slaves.
Low laughed Loki, and looked to the northward:
"Hasten thy coming, O Thor! for here
All things are ready! Break out in thunder—
Ruler of Battles! from Asgard appear!"
Then on a sudden arose the Thunderer—
Arose once again as in days of yore—
Grasp'd, knuckle-white, the old mighty hammer,
The mighty, all rending Hammer of Thor.
Not now Miolnir name we the hammer,
Rather now Moltke ye may it call;
Weapon of Asgard, nimble, tremendous—
Truly of weapons the greatest of all.
Hurl'd from on high hurtled down the great hammer,
Shattering, smashing, it rose and fell;
Blow upon blow in thunderbolts falling,
Stroke after stroke struck deftly and well.
How the blows rang on the German anvil!
Anvil of metal well-tried and true;
Hard is the hammer and steady the stithy—
Under the hammer hits lightnings flew.
He smote them, he crush'd them, he ground them to powder,
He trampled them down in the miry clay!
All the and world held breath and beheld him
March the goal of his conquering way.
Then flew Loki, clad in dove-plumage,
Soared out of Paris, the goal of Thor's way—
Flew swiftly eastwards unto Kyffhaüser,
Where in his cavern the Great Kaiser lay.
Still round the mountain the ravens were circling,
When the dun dove in the westward appeared;
Lo! in a moment, they vanish for ever :
Lo! Barbarossa has dreed his weird.
For out of Versailles shall come now the Kaiser—
The mightiest Kaiser the Reich has seen—
He shall ride home with his Princes surrounded,
And their brows all bound with laurels green.
From the Scotsman, 10th Nov. 1870.
In the Seven Months' War.
Should you hear men say that when France went under
In the wondrous year that is now gone by,
When the German battle-axe clove her asunder,
And the Seven Months' War passed over in thunder.
And prostrate and bleeding we saw her lie :
That when the French eagles were snared and taken,
By pairs, by dozens, by scores in tale;
When the standards of France crossed the Rhine in hundreds,
Though with German bearers, as it betel:
Should you hear men say that not one German banner,
No standard, no colour was left behind—
That all through the tempest of siege and battle,
You shall seek for a lost Teutsch flag and not find.
Then tell them—Not so! you speak, not knowing!
There was one German standard they could not save;
There was one battle-flag they did leave behind them,
And its bearers stayed with it, and lie in one grave.
For they raised a great mound down there in the South-East—
A mound not of earth as grave-mounds are,
When they raised the grave-hillocks of old Teutsch kindred
That the tribes in their wanderings might see them afar!
But this was a mound of German manhood,
Piled and heaped where they took their stand;
And beneath it lay buried the one German standard
Which came not back to the Fatherland.
They levelled the mound of noble Germans,
To lay them low in one great grave.
And at length they came down to the precious standard—
The one German standard that none could save.
Look, O Fatherland! See, O Kaiser!
Look, Teutsch mothers, with eyes tear-blind!
Slit with the shears of a hail of iron—
This is the flag which was left behind!
Is it the flag of the Hohenzollerns—
Sable and argent party per pale?
Is it the banner—black, red, and golden—
Which of old the Empire threw to the gale?
Who can tell? It is stained and riven in sunder,
Drenched in the mud of the battle-plain;
It is red—dull red—with an awful crimson,
Deep dyed in the heart's-blood of German men.
Bear it in triumph, O French, if it please you,
Hang ye it up in the Invalides Dome!
'Tis a Drapeau rouge—is it not? Keep it safely;
The German barbarians may yet fetch it home.
Sixty-first Prussian Infantry Regiment,
Honour and glory and fame be thine:
Well hast thou stood by thy battle-standards.
Well hast thou kept the watch by the Rhine!