Gateway to the Classics: Historic Poems and Ballads by Rupert S. Holland
 
Historic Poems and Ballads by  Rupert S. Holland

Hohenlinden

T HE little village of Hohenlinden, or Linden, as it was often called, stands in a pine forest of Upper Bavaria, on the banks of the swift-flowing river Iser, about twenty miles distant from Munich. In December, 1800, two great armies, the one Austrian, the other French and Bavarian, commanded by Napoleon's General Moreau, drew close to each other along the river. Snow had been falling for several days. The weather was bitterly cold. The armies opened fire, however, and a great battle was fought in the forest, although the snow-storm was so blinding that the soldiers could only distinguish their enemies by the flash of their guns. The battle raged through the woods, across the hills, and along the river. The French and Bavarians finally won, and the Emperor of Austria had to accept Napoleon's terms of peace in order to save his capital of Vienna from capture. In the poem "Frank" means the French, "Hun" stands for the Austrians, and "Munich" refers to the Bavarians and their capital.

During his travels in Germany the English poet Campbell saw a battle from a convent near Ratisbon, and he also visited the field of Ingolstadt after a battle. From these experiences he wrote his poem on Hohenlinden.

Hohenlinden

by Thomas Campbell

On Linden, when the sun was low,

All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,

And dark as winter was the flow

Of Iser, rolling rapidly.


But Linden saw another sight

When the drum beat, at dead of night,

Commanding fires of death to light

The darkness of her scenery.


By torch and trumpet fast arrayde

Each horseman drew his battle blade,

And furious every charger neighed,

To join the dreadful revelry.


Then shook the hills with thunder riven,

Then rushed the steed to battle driven,

And louder than the bolts of heaven,

Far flashed the red artillery.


But redder yet those fires shall glow

On Linden's hills of blood-stained snow,

And darker yet shall be the flow

Of Iser, rolling rapidly.


'Tis morn, but scarce yon lurid sun

Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun,

Where furious Frank, and fiery Hun

Shout in their sulphurous canopy.


The combat deepens. On, ye brave,

Who rush to glory, or the grave!

Wave, Munich, all thy banners wave!

And charge with all thy chivalry!


Ah! few shall part where many meet!

The snow shall be their winding-sheet,

And every turf beneath their feet

Shall be a soldier's sepulchre.


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