Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 9/The Fraülein's hair

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


THE FRAÜLEIN’S HAIR.
AN EPISODE OF THE LIBERATION WAR.

 

From Moscow the baffled eagle came,
And his eye was glazed with a film of shame;
His wing was rigid with Arctic rime,
And his plumes were strown ere the moulting-time;
Yet loftily bears he his battered head,
And even Victory shrinks with dread.

So there is muster in Breslau town
To strike that Gallic eagle down;
And the tocsin sounds, to arms! to arms!
Oh, the rapture of such alarms!
And Breslau’s youth are up to a man,
Eager to stand in the battle’s van;
And Breslau’s maids feed their emprize
With smiles, and blushes, and tears, and sighs,
And each from jewelled store supply
The sinews of glorious mutiny.

One brings silver, another gold;
Another an heir-loom of trinkets old;
But amongst the maiden throng is one
Who jewels of gold and silver has none;
Dowerless maiden! so poor and fair!
Richest of all in the golden hair!

Dowerless maiden! so poor and fair!
She drooped with grief in her golden hair,
As worthy never more to show
A wealth that availed not against the foe;
And then with the guilt of her poverty bold,
She shore off her tresses of waving gold,
That a gift she might give, if they were sold.

Her gift was the greatest, for never, I ween,
At auction or mart was such bidding seen;
For every youth in the town would wear
Some slightest pittance of golden hair.

Of each the portion was costly and small,
Nor were there ringlets enough for all;
And one who was late was first to advance
And open his breast to a Polish lance.

Valour abounded in that stern strife,
But the last in battle to think of life,
The first to charge, the last to fly,
The foremost ever to do or die,
The firmest to stand when full in view
The shot tore horse and rider through,
Were the men whose bosom or head did bear
That cognisance of the golden hair.

They the men who cleanly smote
To the saddle from the throat;
They whose sabre-point did pass
Through the trooper’s heart in his cuirass;
Who gun from carriage to earth did fling
Mid the battery’s thunderous bellowing;
Always doing, and everywhere,
All that heroes can do or dare.

Fraülein von Scheliha!
Fraülein, Queen of the Free!
’Twas a matchless deed as ever we read,
Or ever shall live to see.