Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.



By Anonymous

  • Translated by John Oxenford
  • “The famous Duke of Marlborough had been dead sixty years, when, in 1781, the nurse of the Dauphin son of Louis XVI. sang, as she rocked her royal charge, this ballad, the naïf and pleasing air of which made a considerable sensation. M. de Chateaubriand, who heard the air sung in the East, was of opinion that it was carried thither in the time of the Crusades. The burlesque words were probably spread about various provinces after the battle of Malplaquet by some of the soldiers of Villars and Boufflers. As early as 1706 verses were composed on Marlborough, which were to be found in the manuscript collection of historical songs (in forty-four volumes), made by M. Maurepas, and deposited in the Royal Library. The nurse’s song became all the rage at Versailles, whence it reached Paris, and was soon spread over the whole of France. For four or five years nothing was heard but the burden Mironton, Mirontaine. The song was printed upon fans and screens, with an engraving representing the funeral procession of Marlborough, the lady on her tower, the page dressed in black, and so on. This engraving was imitated in all shapes and sizes. It circulated through the streets and villages, and gave the Duke of Marlborough a more popular celebrity than all his victories. Whenever Napoleon mounted his horse to go to battle he hummed the air Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre. And at St. Helena, shortly before his death, when in the course of a conversation with M. de Las Cases he praised the Duke of Marlborough, the song occurred to his mind, and he said with a smile, which he could not repress, ‘What a thing ridicule is! it fastens upon everything, even victory.’ He then hummed the air.”—Dumersan and Ségur.

  • MARLBROOK has gone to battle,—

    Mironton, mironton, mirontaine,

    Marlbrook has gone to battle,

    But when will he return?

    He will return at Easter,—

    Mironton, etc.

    He will return at Easter,

    Or else at Trinity.

    But Trinity is over,—

    Mironton, etc.

    But Trinity is over,

    And yet he is not here.

    Madame gets up her castle,—

    Mironton, etc.

    Madame gets up her castle,

    As high as she can go.

    And there she sees her page-a,—

    Mironton, etc.

    And there she sees her page-a,

    In a suit of black he ’s clad.

    My page, my page, so handsome,—

    Mironton, etc.

    My page, my page, so handsome,

    What tidings dost thou bring?

    Ah! lady, at my tidings,—

    Mironton, etc.

    Ah! lady, at my tidings,

    Your lovely eyes will weep.

    Put off your gay pink garment,—

    Mironton, etc.

    Put off your gay pink garment,

    And likewise your brocade.

    Monsieur Marlbrook is dead,—

    Mironton, etc.

    Monsieur Marlbrook is dead,

    He ’s dead and buried, too!

    Four officers, I saw them,—

    Mironton, etc.

    Four officers, I saw them,

    Have put him under ground.

    The first one bore his cuirass,—

    Mironton, etc.

    The first one bore his cuirass,

    The second one his sword.

    The third bore his big sabre,—

    Mironton, etc.

    The third bore his big sabre,

    The fourth bore naught at all,—

    His tomb they have surrounded.

    Mironton, etc.

    His tomb they have surrounded

    With plants of rose-maree.

    The nightingale was singing,—

    Mironton, etc.

    The nightingale was singing

    Upon the topmost branch.

    And swiftly through the laurels,—

    Mironton, etc.

    And swiftly through the laurels

    We saw his great soul fly.

    Then every one was prostrate,—

    Mironton, etc.

    Then every one was prostrate,

    Till he got up again.

    To sing about the battles,—

    Mironton, etc.

    To sing about the battles

    Which great Marlbrook had won.

    And when the pomp was ended,—

    Mironton, etc.

    And when the pomp was ended,

    They all retired to rest.