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

Spain: Leon

March of Bernardo del Carpio

By Spanish Ballad

Translated by J. G. Lockhart

WITH three thousand men of Leon, from the city Bernard goes,

To protect the soil Hispanian from the spear of Frankish foes;

From the city which is planted in the midst between the seas,

To preserve the name and glory of old Pelayo’s victories.

The peasant hears upon his field the trumpet of the knight,

He quits his team for spear and shield, and garniture of might;

The shepherd hears it mid the mist,—he flingeth down his crook,

And rushes from the mountain like a tempest-troubled brook.

The youth who shows a maiden’s chin, whose brows have ne’er been bound

The helmet’s heavy ring within, gains manhood from the sound;

The hoary sire beside the fire forgets his feebleness,

Once more to feel the cap of steel a warrior’s ringlets press.

As through the glen his spears did gleam, these soldiers from the hills,

They swelled his host, as mountain-stream receives the roaring rills;

They round his banner flocked, in scorn of haughty Charlemagne,

And thus upon their swords are sworn the faithful sons of Spain.

“Free were we born,” ’t is thus they cry, “though to our King we owe

The homage and the fealty behind his crest to go;

By God’s behest our aid he shares, but God did ne’er command

That we should leave our children heirs of an enslaved land.

“Our breasts are not so timorous, nor are our arms so weak,

Nor are our veins so bloodless, that we our vow should break,

To sell our freedom for the fear of Prince or Paladin,—

At least we ’ll sell our birthright dear, no bloodless prize they ’ll win.

“At least King Charles, if God decrees he must be lord of Spain,

Shall witness that the Leonese were not aroused in vain;

He shall bear witness that we died as lived our sires of old,

Nor only of Numantium’s pride shall minstrel tales be told.

“The Lion that hath bathed his paws in seas of Lybian, gore,

Shall he not battle for the laws and liberties of yore?

Anointed cravens may give gold to whom it likes them well,

But steadfast heart and spirit bold Alphonso ne’er shall sell.”