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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.


The Destruction of Magdeburg

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Translated by E. A. Bowring

O MAGDEBURG the town!

Fair maids thy beauty crown,

Thy charms fair maids and matrons crown;

O Magdeburg the town!

Where all so blooming stands,

Advance fierce Tilly’s bands;

O’er gardens and o’er well-tilled lands

Advance fierce Tilly’s bands.

Now Tilly ’s at the gate.

Our homes who ’ll liberate?

Go, loved one, hasten to the gate,

And dare the combat straight!

There is no need as yet,

However fierce his threat;

Thy rosy cheeks I ’ll kiss, sweet pet!

There is no need as yet.

My longing makes me pale,

O, what can wealth avail?

E’en now thy father may be pale.

Thou mak’st my courage fail.

O mother, give me bread!

Is then my father dead?

O mother, one small crust of bread!

O, what misfortune dread!

Thy father, dead lies he,

The trembling townsmen flee,

Adown the street the blood runs free;

O, whither shall we flee?

The churches ruined lie,

The houses burn on high,

The roofs they smoke, the flames out fly,

Into the street then hie!

No safety there they meet!

The soldiers fill the street,

With fire and sword the wreck complete:

No safety there they meet!

Down falls the houses’ line,

Where now is thine or mine?

That bundle yonder is not thine

Thou flying maiden mine!

The women sorrow sore,

The maidens far, far more.

The living are no virgins more:

Thus Tilly’s troops make war!