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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI. 1876–79.

Switzerland: Morat (Murten)

The Battle of Murten

By Veil Weber (1762–1837)

Translated by C. C. Felton

THE TIDINGS flew from land to land,

At Murten lies Burgund;

And all make haste, for fatherland,

To battle with Burgund.

In the field before a woodland green,

Shouted the squire and knight;

Loud shouted René of Lorraine,

“We ’ll forward to the fight!”

The leaders held but short debate;

Too long it still appeared;—

“Ah, God! when ends the long debate?

Are they perchance afeard?

“Not idle stands in heaven high

The sun in his tent of blue;

We laggards let the hours go by!

When shall we hack and hew?”

Fearfully roared Carl’s cannonade;

We cared not what befell;

We were not in the heat dismayed,

If this or that man fell.

Lightens in circles wide the sword,

Draws back the mighty spear;

Thirsted for blood the good broadsword,

Blood drank the mighty spear.

Short time the foemen bore the fray,

Soldier and champion fled,

And the broad field of battle lay

Knee-deep with spears o’erspread.

Some in the forest, some the brake,

To hide from the sunlight sought;

Many sprang headlong into the lake,

Although they thirsted not.

Up to the chin they waded in;

Like ducks swam here and there;

As they a flock of ducks had been,

We shot them in the mere.

After them on the lake we sail,

With oars we smote them dead,

And piteously we heard them wail;

The green lake turned to red.

Up on the trees clomb many high,

We shot them there like crows;

Their feathers helped them not to fly,

No wind to waft them blows.

The battle raged two leagues around,

And many foemen lay

All hacked and hewed upon the ground,

When sunset closed the day;

And they who yet alive were found

Thanks to the night did pay.

A camp like any market-place

Fell to the Switzer’s hand;

Carl made the beggars rich apace

In needy Switzerland.

The game of chess is a kingly play;—

’T is a Leaguer now that tries;

He took from the king his pawns away;

His flank unguarded lies.

His castles were of little use,

His knights were in a strait;

Turn him whatever way he choose,

There threatens him checkmate.

Veit Weber had his hand on sword,

Who did this rhyme indite:

Till evening mowed he with the sword;

He sang the stour at night.

He swung the bow, he swung the sword,

Fiddler and fighter true,

Champion of lady and of lord,

Dancer and prelate too.