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

Austria: Danube, the River

The Frontier Guard

By Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) (1806–1876)

Translated by C. T. Brooks

THE SENTINEL his weary hours

Keeps guard in quarantine;

Across the stream, in paths of flowers,

The Turkish maid is seen.

Between, the roaring Danube’s tide,

Like death’s dark river, rolls,

Whose waters earth and heaven divide,

Mortals and blessed souls.

What things are done in that bright sun,

To those who linger here,

Like memory’s lost or hope’s unwon

And unborn joys appear.

The flowers that there perfume the air

So far from him they seem,

As if Heaven’s bowers, in long-gone hours,

Had shown them in his dream.

The golden fruits that glow among

Yon groves of balm and spice

Are in his eyes as if they hung

On trees of Paradise.

Yon Turkish maid, who walks beside

The pleasant river-shore,

Seems like a gentle ghost to glide,—

A shape of earth no more.

Through the white veil her lustrous eyes

In liquid beauty gleam,

As when, mild-glimmering from the skies,

The stars through cloud-fleece beam.

The soldier kindles at the sight

With such a yearning love,

As draws by night, in full moonlight,

The wanderer’s soul above.

His vision seems about to pass

To that far spirit-land,—

But other images, alas!

Quite earthly, are at hand.

Full many a scout, to-night, is out,

He hears them brushing by;

Bright gleams the steel, and from the heel


In moss-divan, upon the shore,

The Aga’s smoke-pipe-cup

See, like a musket-barrel, pour

Its peaceful salvos up!

Then, full of wrath, the soldier grounds

His musket on the shore

So heavily, the welkin sounds

With hollow ring and roar!

“Shame that these vigorous limbs all day

Must haunt this lazy shore,

Dead as a boundary tree, to play

Nurse at a pest-house door!

“Your bridges here, come, Pontoneer,

For wagon and for horse!

Come, Commissary, boats for the ferry,

Over with all the force!

“We, too, must battle for the Lord!

The fight our sires begun,

Yonder, by our good Christian sword,

Must be fought out and won!

“See on yon mosque the crescent fly!

Sir Captain, what disgrace!

Up, plant the holy cross, there, high,

Far worthier of the place!

“Sir Priest, you see how error’s veil

Shrouds many a lovely brow,

That prays, within the Church’s pale

And at her font, to bow!”

Take courage, Faith, be not afraid!

Who would have dreamed, awake,

An unbelieving Turkish maid

Could such good Christians make!