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

Teutoburger Wald

The Teutoburger Battle

By Joseph Victor von Scheffel (1826–1886)

Translated by C. G. Leland

WHEN the Romans, rashly roving,

Into Germany were moving,

First of all,—to flourish partial,—

Rode mid trumpets the field marshal,

Sir Quinctilius Varus.

But in the Teutoburgian Forest

How the north-wind blew and chorussed;

Ravens flying through the air,

And there was a perfume there

As of blood and corpses.

All at once, in sock and buskins

Out came rushing the Cheruskins,

Howling, “Gott und Vaterland!”

They went in with sword in hand,

Against the Roman legions.

Ah, it was an awful slaughter,

And the cohorts ran like water;

But of all the foe that day,

The horsemen only got away,

Because they were on horseback.

O Quinctilius! wretched general,

Knowest thou not that such our men are all?

In a swamp he fell,—how shocking!

Lost two boots, a left-hand stocking,

And, besides, was smothered.

Then, with his temper growing wusser,

Said to Centurion Titiusser,

“Pull your sword out,—never mind,

And bore me through with it behind,

Since the game is busted.”

Scævola, of law a student,

Fine young fellow,—but imprudent

As a youth of tender years,

Served among the volunteers,—

He was also captured.

E’en his hoped-for death was baffled,

For ere they got him to the scaffold

He was stabbed quite unaware,

And nailed fast en derrière

To his Corpus Juris.

When this forest fight was over

Hermann rubbed his hands in clover;

And to do the thing up right,

The Cheruscans did invite

To a first-rate breakfast.


Now, in honor of the story,

A monument they ’ll raise for glory.

As for pedestal,—they ’ve done it;

But who ’ll pay for a statue on it

Heaven alone can tell us.