Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(27 February 1807 – 24 March 1882 / Portland, Maine)

The Emperor's Glove. (Birds Of Passage. Flight The Fifth)


On St. Bavon's tower, commanding
Half of Flanders, his domain,
Charles the Emperor once 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?'

Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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