Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Introductory to Belgium


By From the French

  • Translated by Francis Mahoney
  • Another and more literal version of this popular song will be found with an explanatory note, in “France,” II (Marlbrook).

  • MALBROUCK, the prince of commanders,

    Is gone to the war in Flanders;

    His fame is like Alexander’s;

    But when will he come home?

    Perhaps at Trinity Feast, or

    Perhaps he may come at Easter.

    Egad! he had better make haste, or

    We fear he may never come.

    For Trinity Feast is over,

    And has brought no news from Dover,

    And Easter is past, moreover,

    And Malbrouck still delays.

    Milady in her watch-tower

    Spends many a pensive hour,

    Not knowing why or how her

    Dear lord from England stays.

    While sitting quite forlorn in

    That tower, she spies returning

    A page clad in deep mourning,

    With fainting steps and slow.

    “O page, prithee, come faster!

    What news do you bring of your master?

    I fear there is some disaster,

    Your looks are so full of woe.”

    “The news I bring, fair lady,”

    With sorrowful accent said he,

    “Is one you are not ready

    So soon, alas! to hear.

    “But since to speak I ’m hurried,”

    Added this page, quite flurried,

    “Malbrouck is dead and buried!”

    And here he shed a tear.

    “He ’s dead! he ’s dead as a herring!

    For I beheld his berring,

    And four officers transferring

    His corpse away from the field.

    “One officer carried his sabre,

    And he carried it not without labor,

    Much envying his next neighbor,

    Who only bore a shield.

    “The third was helmet-bearer,—

    That helmet which on its wearer

    Filled all who saw with tenor,

    And covered a hero’s brains.

    “Now, having got so far, I

    Find that—by the Lord Harry!—

    The fourth is left nothing to carry;—

    So there the thing remains.”