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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.

Belgium: Ghent

The Emperor’s Glove

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

  • “Combien faudrait-il de peaux d’Espagne pour faire un gant de cette grandeur?”—a play upon the words gant, a glove, and Gand, the French for Ghent.

  • ON St. Bavon’s tower, commanding

    Half of Flanders, his domain,

    Charles the Emperor was standing,

    While beneath him on the landing

    Stood Duke Alva and his train.

    Like a print in books of fables,

    Or a model made for show,

    With its pointed roofs and gables,

    Dormer windows, scrolls and labels,

    Lay the city far below.

    Through its squares and streets and alleys

    Poured the populace of Ghent;

    As a routed army rallies,

    Or as rivers run through valleys,

    Hurrying to their homes they went.

    “Nest of Lutheran misbelievers!”

    Cried Duke Alva as he gazed;

    “Haunt of traitors and deceivers,

    Stronghold of insurgent weavers,

    Let it to the ground be razed!”

    On the Emperor’s cap the feather

    Nods, as, laughing, he replies:

    “How many skins of Spanish leather

    Think you, would, if stitched together,

    Make a glove of such a size?”