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

Austria: Cracow

The Passage of the Poles by Night near Cracow

By August von Platen-Hallermünde (1796–1835)

Translated by A. Baskerville

THE CHILLY breezes blow,

In sadness do we go,

Led on by Destiny.

O’ershadowed is each star,

While Europe, from afar,

Looks on the tragedy.

Oft turning back our head,

Upon the bridge we tread

That quits our native land.

By torchlight’s sombre glow,

They who our sorrows know

Salute us on the strand.

Sold, vanquished, and betrayed,

Our noblest actions fade

Like vain and empty dreams,

No trace behind remains.

Farewell, beloved plains,

Ye valleys, hills, and streams!

Farewell! in every land

Will a life-wearied band

Find in the grave a home.

It is not death we flee,

No, ’t is but to be free,

We take our staff and roam.

From wife and child, from all

We part, our country’s fall

We may not hinder more,

For, lo! the knout of Russia

And scourging steel of Prussia

Are thirsting for our gore.

A tearless soul abhorred

Was given us as lord,

A stony heart unbent;

Born of a murderous race,

His forehead bears the trace

That brandeth his descent.

Let glory’s crown, O fame,

Illume our humble name!

Pour balm on every scar!

Then smart the wounds of none,

For Poland’s humblest son

Is greater than the Czar.

Alone inherit we

Our struggle’s memory

That leagued each Polish band,

Of war the pain and toil,

A handful of the soil

Snatched from our Fatherland.

O, happy they who drained

The cup of death, and gained

The laurels of the brave!

And ye, Volhynia’s sons,

From agony’s death-groans

Freed by the cold damp grave!

They urge the reeking steed,

Enclosed by foes, and speed

The Vistula to gain,

The stranger’s shore their goal;

Then swelled their noble soul,

Oppressed by woe and pain.

It wrung their hearts to roam,

Ne’er more to see that home

Of every wish the meed;

Then rushed the good and brave

Headlong into the wave

With weapon and with steed.

O thou, their country’s flood,

Who long hast swelled with blood,

Receive the valiant dead!

Soon wilt thou reach the sea,

O, bear the corpses free

On to free Ocean’s bed.