Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
 
Plessis-les-Tours
Louis the Eleventh
Pierre-Jean de Béranger (1780–1857)
 
        
Translated by William Young
  It is said that this king, in retirement at Plessis-les-Tours with Tristan, the confidant and the instrument of his cruelties, would sometimes gaze upon the peasants dancing before the windows of his castle.

          HAPPY villagers, dance around!
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!
                Rejoice, rejoice,
                O pipe and voice,
          In a mingled, merry sound!        5
 
Our old King Louis, hidden in these towers,
  Whose name we scarcely dare to breathe aloud,
Would try at times, when spring puts forth fresh flowers,
  If he can smile upon our festive crowd.
          Happy villagers, dance around!        10
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!
                Rejoice, rejoice,
                O pipe and voice,
          In a mingled, merry sound!
 
Whilst on our banks we laugh and sing and love,        15
  Stern Louis keeps himself a prisoner there:
He fears the high, the low, nay, God above;
  But beyond all he fears his hapless heir.
          Happy villagers, dance around!
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!        20
                Rejoice, rejoice,
                O pipe and voice,
          In a mingled, merry sound!
 
See hence, a hundred halberds strike the eye,
  Beneath our sunny heaven, so soft and clear!        25
And whilst the guards their watchful challenge cry,
  Grates not the clang of bolts upon thine ear?
          Happy villagers, dance around!
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!
                Rejoice, rejoice,        30
                O pipe and voice,
          In a mingled, merry sound!
 
He comes! he comes! The peace of humblest cot
  This king, alas! with envy might regard.
Like some sepulchral phantom, see’st thou not        35
  His form, behind those windows thickly barred?
          Happy villagers, dance around!
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!
                Rejoice, rejoice,
                O pipe and voice,        40
          In a mingled, merry sound!
 
How, in our cots, the monarch’s form would stand,
  Imaged before us with attractions rare!
What! for the sceptre a weak, trembling hand!
  What! for the crown a brow opprest with care!        45
          Happy villagers, dance around!
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!
                Rejoice, rejoice,
                O pipe and voice,
          In a mingled, merry sound!        50
 
He quakes, he shivers; all in vain we sing:
  ’T is but the clock that sounds the passing hour;
Yet ever thus ’t is taken by our king
  For the alarum from his signal-tower.
          Happy villagers, dance around!        55
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!
                Rejoice, rejoice,
                O pipe and voice,
          In a mingled, merry sound!
 
Ha! with his favorite, look! he glides away;        60
  Alas! our joy can ne’er his gloom beguile!
Fearing his hate, “Our Sire,” ’t were well to say,
  “Hath on his children kindly deigned to smile.”
          Happy villagers, dance around!
          Lads and lasses, gayly bound!        65
                Rejoice, rejoice,
                O pipe and voice,
          In a mingled, merry sound!
 
 
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