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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.

Katzbach, the River

Blücher’s Ball

By Adolf Ludwig Follen (1794–1855)

Translated by C. C. Felton

BY the Katzbach, by the Katzbach, ha! there was a merry dance;

Wild and weird and whirling waltzes skipped ye through, ye knaves of France!

For there struck the great bass-viol an old German master famed,—

Marshal Forward, Prince of Wallstadt, Gebhardt Lebrecht Blücher named.

Up! the Blücher hath the ball-room lighted with the cannon’s glare!

Spread yourselves, ye gay, green carpets, that the dancing moistens there!

And his fiddle-bow at first he waxed with Goldberg and with Jauer;

Whew! he ’s drawn it now full length, his play a stormy northern shower!

Ha! the dance went briskly onward, tingling madness seized them all:

As when howling, mighty tempests on the arms of windmills fall.

But the old man wants it cheery, wants a pleasant dancing chime;

And with gun-stocks clearly, loudly, beats the old Teutonic time.

Say, who, standing by the old man, strikes so hard the kettle-drum,

And, with crushing strength of arm, down lets the thundering hammer come?

Gneisenau, the gallant champion: Alemannia’s envious foes

Smites the mighty pair, her living double-eagle, shivering blows.

And the old man scrapes the sweep-out: hapless Franks and hapless trulls!

Now what dancers leads the graybeard? Ha! ha! ha! ’t is dead men’s skulls!

But, as ye too much were heated in the sultriness of hell,

Till ye sweated blood and brains, he made the Katzbach cool ye well.

From the Katzbach, while ye stiffen, hear the ancient proverb say,

“Wanton varlets, venal blockheads, must with clubs be beat away!”