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


The Champs Élysées

By Joseph Christian von Zedlitz (1790–1862)

The Midnight Review

Anonymous translation

AT midnight, from his grave,

The drummer woke and rose,

And, beating loud the drum,

Forth on his errand goes.

Stirred by his fleshless arms,

The drumsticks rise and fall;

He beats the loud retreat,

Reveillé and roll-call.

So strangely rolls that drum,

So deep it echoes round,

Old soldiers in their graves

To life start at the sound.

Both they in farthest North,

Stiff in the ice that lay,

And who, too, warm repose

Beneath Italian clay,

Below the mud of Nile,

And ’neath the Arabian sand,

Their burial-place they quit,

And soon to arms they stand.

And at midnight from his grave

The trumpeter arose,

And, mounted on his horse,

A loud, shrill blast he blows.

On airy coursers then

The cavalry are seen,

Old squadrons, erst renowned,

Gory and gashed, I ween.

Beneath the casque their blanched skulls

Smile grim, and proud their air,

As in their bony hands

Their long, sharp swords they bare!

And at midnight from his tomb,

The chief awoke and rose,

And, followed by his staff,

With slow steps on he goes.

A little hat he wears,

A coat quite plain has he,

A little sword for arms

At his left side hangs free.

O’er the vast plain the moon

A paly lustre threw;

The man with the little hat

The troops goes to review.

The ranks present their arms,

Deep rolls the drum the while;

Recovering then, the troops

Before the chief defile.

Captains and generals round

In circles formed appear;

The chief to the first a word

Now whispers in his ear.

The word goes round the ranks,

Resounds along the line;

That word they give, is—France,

The answer—St. Hélène.

’T is there at midnight hour

The grand review, they say,

Is by dead Cæsar held,

In the Champs-Élysées.