Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Narrative Poems: IV. Germany
The Nobleman and the Pensioner
Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel (1736–1809)
 
From the German by Charles Timothy Brooks

“OLD man, God bless you! does your pipe taste sweetly?
    A beauty, by my soul!
A red-clay flower-pot, rimmed with gold so neatly!
    What ask you for the bowl?”
 
“O sir, that bowl for worlds I would not part with;        5
    A brave man gave it me,
Who won it—now what think you?—of a bashaw
    At Belgrade’s victory.
 
“There, sir, ah! there was booty worth the showing,—
    Long life to Prince Eugene!        10
Like after-grass you might have seen us mowing
    The Turkish ranks down clean.”
 
“Another time I ’ll hear your story;—
    Come, old man, be no fool;
Take these two ducats,—gold for glory,        15
    And let me have the bowl!”
 
“I ’m a poor churl, as you may say, sir;
    My pension ’s all I ’m worth:
Yet I ’d not give that bowl away, sir,
    For all the gold on earth.        20
 
“Just hear now! Once, as we hussars, all merry,
    Hard on the foe’s rear pressed,
A blundering rascal of a janizary
    Shot through our captain’s breast.
 
“At once across my horse I hove him,—        25
    The same would he have done,
And from the smoke and tumult drove him
    Safe to a nobleman.
 
“I nursed him, and, before his end, bequeathing
    His money and this bowl        30
To me, he pressed my hand, just ceased his breathing,
    And so he died, brave soul!
 
“The money thou must give mine host,—so thought I,—
    Three plunderings suffered he:
And, in remembrance of my old friend, brought I        35
    The pipe away with me.
 
“Henceforth in all campaigns with me I bore it,
    In flight or in pursuit;
It was a holy thing, sir, and I wore it
    Safe-sheltered in my boot.        40
 
“This very limb, I lost it by a shot, sir,
    Under the walls of Prague:
First at my precious pipe, be sure, I caught, sir,
    And then picked up my leg.”
 
“You move me even to tears, old sire:        45
    What was the brave man’s name?
Tell me, that I, too, may admire,
    And venerate his fame.”
 
“They called him only the brave Walter;
    His farm lay near the Rhine.”—        50
“God bless your old eyes! ’t was my father,
    And that same farm is mine.
 
“Come, friend, you ’ve seen some stormy weather,
    With me is now your bed;
We ’ll drink of Walter’s grapes together,        55
    And eat of Walter’s bread.”
 
“Now,—done! I march in, then, to-morrow;
    You ’re his true heir, I see;
And when I die, your thanks, kind master,
    The Turkish pipe shall be.”        60
 
 
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