Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
Austria: Danube, the River
The Frontier Guard
Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) (1806–1876)
Translated by C. T. Brooks

THE SENTINEL his weary hours
  Keeps guard in quarantine;
Across the stream, in paths of flowers,
  The Turkish maid is seen.
Between, the roaring Danube’s tide,        5
  Like death’s dark river, rolls,
Whose waters earth and heaven divide,
  Mortals and blessed souls.
What things are done in that bright sun,
  To those who linger here,        10
Like memory’s lost or hope’s unwon
  And unborn joys appear.
The flowers that there perfume the air
  So far from him they seem,
As if Heaven’s bowers, in long-gone hours,        15
  Had shown them in his dream.
The golden fruits that glow among
  Yon groves of balm and spice
Are in his eyes as if they hung
  On trees of Paradise.        20
Yon Turkish maid, who walks beside
  The pleasant river-shore,
Seems like a gentle ghost to glide,—
  A shape of earth no more.
Through the white veil her lustrous eyes        25
  In liquid beauty gleam,
As when, mild-glimmering from the skies,
  The stars through cloud-fleece beam.
The soldier kindles at the sight
  With such a yearning love,        30
As draws by night, in full moonlight,
  The wanderer’s soul above.
His vision seems about to pass
  To that far spirit-land,—
But other images, alas!        35
  Quite earthly, are at hand.
Full many a scout, to-night, is out,
  He hears them brushing by;
Bright gleams the steel, and from the heel
  Dust-clouds—hoof-lightnings—fly.        40
In moss-divan, upon the shore,
  The Aga’s smoke-pipe-cup
See, like a musket-barrel, pour
  Its peaceful salvos up!
Then, full of wrath, the soldier grounds        45
  His musket on the shore
So heavily, the welkin sounds
  With hollow ring and roar!
“Shame that these vigorous limbs all day
  Must haunt this lazy shore,        50
Dead as a boundary tree, to play
  Nurse at a pest-house door!
“Your bridges here, come, Pontoneer,
  For wagon and for horse!
Come, Commissary, boats for the ferry,        55
  Over with all the force!
“We, too, must battle for the Lord!
  The fight our sires begun,
Yonder, by our good Christian sword,
  Must be fought out and won!        60
“See on yon mosque the crescent fly!
  Sir Captain, what disgrace!
Up, plant the holy cross, there, high,
  Far worthier of the place!
“Sir Priest, you see how error’s veil        65
  Shrouds many a lovely brow,
That prays, within the Church’s pale
  And at her font, to bow!”
Take courage, Faith, be not afraid!
  Who would have dreamed, awake,        70
An unbelieving Turkish maid
  Could such good Christians make!

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