Verse > Anthologies > Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. > A Harvest of German Verse
Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans.  A Harvest of German Verse.  1916.
Suabian Legend
By Ludwig Uhland (1787–1862)
WHEN Emperor Redbeard with his band
Came marching through the Holy Land,
He had to lead, the way to seek,
His noble force o’er mountains bleak.
Of bread there rose a painful need,        5
Though stones were plentiful indeed,
And many a German rider fine
Forgot the taste of mead and wine.
The horses drooped from meagre fare,
The rider had to hold his mare.        10
There was a knight from Suabian land
Of noble build and mighty hand;
His little horse was faint and ill,
He dragged it by the bridle still:
His steed he never would forsake,        15
If his own life should be at stake.
And so the horseman had to stay
Behind his band a little way.
Then all at once, right in his course,
Pranced fifty Turkish men on horse.        20
And straight a swarm of arrows flew,
Their spears as well the riders threw.
Our Suabian brave felt no dismay,
And calmly marched along his way.
His shield was stuck with arrows o’er,        25
He sneered and looked about—no more;
Till one, whom all this pastime bored,
Above him swung a crooked sword.
The German’s blood begins to boil,
He aims the Turkish steed to foil,        30
And off he knocks with hit so neat
The Turkish charger’s two fore-feet.
And now that he has felled the horse,
He grips his sword with double force
And swings it on the rider’s crown        35
And splits him to the saddle down:
He hews the saddle into bits,
And e’en the charger’s back he splits.
See, falling to the right and left,
Half of a Turk that has been cleft!        40
The others shudder at the sight
And hie away in frantic flight,
And each one feels with gruesome dread
That he is split through trunk and head.
A band of Christians, left behind,        45
Came down the road, his work to find:
And they admired, one by one,
The deed our hero bold had done.
From these the Emperor heard it all,
And bade his men the Suabian call,        50
Then spake: “Who taught thee, honoured knight,
With hits like those you dealt, to fight?”
Our hero said without delay:
“These hits are just the Suabian way:
Throughout the realm all men admit,        55
The Suabians always make a hit.”

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