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


The Flax-Spinner’s Song

By From the German

Translated by C. T. Brooks

NOW is the flax so fair and long:

Ho! ho! ho!

And now the poor man’s heart is strong,

And now ascends his swelling song,

The grateful heart’s o’erflow.

What torments must the flax endure!

Ho! ho! ho!

They ’ll dig a pond, and heave it in,

Then beat and bruise it short and thin;

Hallo! hallo! hallo!

The flayer, he will break the straw,

Rack! rack! rack!

The gleaner, he will scrape and glean,

Till not a single sheaf is seen,

Then throw it on the pack.

The hatcheler then must make it fine,

Hash! hash! hash!

He draws it out so fine and fair—

He forms the woof with speed and care,

And lays it on the rash.

And then, when winter comes along,

Groll! groll! groll!

The woofs are set, and man and wife,

They spin, as if they spun for life,

They spin full many a roll.

And now the bride will be so gay,

Ho! ho! ho!

She ’ll spin by night, she ’ll spin by day;

Her bridal dress she ’ll spin away,

Fine as her hair, I know.

Hurrah! hurrah! the flax is good!

Ho! ho! ho!

Who does his duty daily, he

Must always bright and happy be,

Whether in weal or woe.

The flax rewards our cheerful toil;

Ho! ho! ho!

And many a mighty prince’s son

Who wears the linen we have spun,

Our joy may never know.