Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Spain: Bidasoa, the River
The Bridge of the Bidasoa
Johann Ludwig Uhland (1787–1862)
 
Translated by Percy Boyd

ON the bridge where Bidasoa
  Rolls his waters to the main,
There stands a sainted image
  Looking forth on France and Spain.
 
Gently doth Heaven’s blessing        5
  Descend on that sweet shore,
Once crossed by many a soldier
  Who saw his home no more.
 
On the bridge of Bidasoa
  By night strange music plays,        10
There swarthy shades are mingled
  With golden, lustrous rays;
One side is bright with roses,
  The other dark with sand,
As each the chance discloses        15
  Of death or Fatherland!
 
The waves of Bidasoa
  Glide on with gentle swell,
And, rising o’er their music,
  Is heard the shepherd’s bell.        20
Far other sounds once echoed
  Along that river fair,
When a broken host at twilight
  Furled their torn banners there.
Wounded, sore, and bleeding—        25
  Of hope, of pride bereft—
On the bridge they leaned their rifles,
  And counted who were left.
 
Long watched they for the missing,
  With tearful, earnest eyes,        30
Until an ancient warrior
  To his drooping soldiers cries:
“Roll up the tattered banner,
  Once the ensign of the brave,—
No more shall conquest fan her        35
  By the Bidasoa’s wave.
 
“We must seek a home of freedom
  In some country far away,
Where our ancient star of glory
  Shall shine with cloudless ray.        40
O thou, in freedom’s battle,
  Who many a toil hast borne,
Spirit of sainted Minna!
  Show the path of our return.
 
“We have one dauntless leader        45
  Left to Spain and freedom yet—
On, then! o’er the river
  Her star of glory hath not set!
From the old, time-worn marble,
  Where he long had lain so still,        50
Minna rises sternly glancing
  On the lighted western hill!”
 
Then, from his breast removing
  His hand, he opens wide
His wounds, and soon his life-blood        55
  Purples the gushing tide.
 
 
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