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Often lost their quivering beam,
Till they rest their ghastly gleam
Thundering voices from within,
As they fell, a solemn strain
Lent its wild and wondrous close!
Midst the din, he seem'd to hear Voice of friends, by death removed; —
Well he knew that solemn air,
Hark! for now a solemn knell
Four times on the still night broke;
Four times, at its deaden'd swell,
As the lengthen'd clangours die, Slowly opes the iron door!
Coffins for the seats extend;
All with black the board was spread; Girt by parent, brother, friend,
Long since number'd with the dead I
Alice, in her grave-clothes bound,
All arose, with thundering sound;
High their meagre arms they wave,
"Welcome, traitor, to the grave! Perjured, bid the light farewell!"
THE BATTLE OF SEMPACH.
These verses are a literal translation of an ancient Swiss ballad upon the Battle of Sempach, fought 9th July, 1386, being the victory by which the Swiss cantons established their independence; the author, Albert Tchudi, denominated the Souter, from his profession of a shoemaker. He was a citizen of Lucerne, esteemed highly among his countrymen, both for his powers as a Meister-Singer, or minstrel, and his courage as a soldier; so that he might share the praise conferred by Collins on iEschylus, that —
"—— Not alone he nursed the poet's flame,
But reach'd from Virtue's hand the patriot steel."
The circumstance of their being written by a poet returning from the well-fought field he describes, and in which his country's fortune was secured, may confer on Tchudi's verses an interest which they are not entitled to claim from their poetical merit. But ballad poetry, the more literally it is translated, the more it loses its simplicity, without acquiring either grace or strength; and therefore some of the faults of the verses must be imputed to the translator's feeling it a duty to keep as closely as possible to his original. The various puns, rude attempts at pleasantry, and disproportioned episodes, must be set down to Tchudi's account, or to the taste of his age.
The military antiquary will derive some amusement from the minute particulars which the martial poet has recorded. The mode in which the Austrian men-at-arms received the charge of the Swiss, was by forming a phalanx, which they defended with their long lances. The gallant Winkelreid, who sacrificed his own life by rushing among the spears, clasping in his arms as many as he could grasp, and thus opening a gap in those iron battalions, is celebrated in Swiss history. When fairly mingled together, the unwieldy length of their weapons, and cumbrous weight of their defensive armour, rendered the Austrian men-atarms a very unequal match for the light-armed mountaineers. The victories obtained by the Swiss over the German chivalry, hitherto deemed as formidable on foot as on horseback, led to important changes in the art of war. The poet describes the Austrian knights and squires as cutting the peaks from their boots ere they could act upon foot, in allusion to an inconvenient piece of foppery, often mentioned in the middle ages. Leopold III., Archduke of Austria, called "The handsome man-at-arms," was slain in the Battle of Sempach, with the flower of his chivalry.