Bohemian Poems, Ancient and Modern/Beneš Hermanow

For other English-language translations of this work, see Beneš Hermanow.

This poem comes from the so called Queen's Court Manuscript, alleged mediaeval work whose real author was most probably Václav Hanka in the early 19th century.

3267982Bohemian Poems, Ancient and Modern — Beneš HermanowAlbert Henry Wratislaw




O TELL me, Sun, thou gentle Sun,
Why thou dost mourning go?
And wherefore thou dost shine on us,
A people full of woe?

Where, where’s our prince, our army? He
To Otto’s court is gone;—
Who from the foe our land shall free
Thus orphan and alone?

In columns long the Germans march,
The Germans Saxons are,
Into our country from the hills,
That wave with woods afar.

‘Give, give, ye wretches, silver, gold,
And all that ye possess,
Or else ye shall in flames behold
Mansions and cottages’!’

And they have burn’d our all, have ta’en
Our gold and silver too,
Our cattle they have driv’n away,
And now towards Trosky go.

O do not, peasant, do not mourn!
The grass again will grow,
Although it long has trodden been
By footsteps of the foe.

Twine, twine a wreath of wild flowérs
For your deliv’rer’s brow!
The green corn glitters fresh again,
And all a change doth know.

Yea quickly all a change did know,
Lo! how the people all
To council Benes Hermanow
Against the foe doth call!

Now stream the peasants where the wood
’Neath Hrubá Skála grows,
And each is weapon’d with a flail,
That ’gainst the Saxons goes.

’Tis Benes leads the van, the folk
Doth follow wrathful wise,
And Vengeance, vengeance every man
Against the plund’rers cries.

O anger fierce and savage wrath
Did fill both armies then,
And in the inmost breasts did storm
Of the enragéd men!

And fury in the foemen’s eyes
Against each other glows,
And club ’gainst club on high they raise,
And spears to spears oppose.

On one another rush’d the hosts,
As wood on wood were hurl’d,
And like the lightning of the sky,
So gleam’d the swords they whirl’d.

A fearful cry arising then
The forest beasts doth fright,
And scareth all the wingéd fowls
To the third ridge’s height.

Spread from the rocky hills throughout
The vales upon the breeze
Here strokes of clubs, and here of swords,
Like fall of ancient trees.

Thus motionless both armies stood
Against each other there,
On heels that firm implantéd stay,
On legs that steadfast are.

But Benes wends himself on high.
And towards the right doth swing
His sword, the army thither hastes;
Then towards the other wing

He points, towards the left they rush;
Thence towards the rocky pass;
And from the rocks upon the foe
They hurl the stony mass.

Now to the plain the fight descends,
The Germans they must fly,
The Germans they must shriek aloud,
The Germans they must die!