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Half in anger, half in shame,
Forth the great campaigner came
Slowly from his canvas palace.

"Let no hand the bird molest,"
Said he solemnly, "nor hurt her!"
Adding then, by way of jest,
"Golondrina is my guest,

'T is the wife of some deserter!"

Swift as bowstring speeds a shaft,
Through the camp was spread the rumor,
And the soldiers, as they quaffed
Flemish beer at dinner, laughed

At the Emperor's pleasant humor.

So unharmed and unafraid

Sat the swallow still and brooded,

Till the constant cannonade

Through the walls a breach had made,

And the siege was thus concluded.

Then the army, elsewhere bent,
Struck its tents as if disbanding,

Only not the Emperor's tent,

For he ordered, ere he went,

Very curtly, "Leave it standing!

So it stood there all alone,

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Loosely flapping, torn and tattered, Till the brood was fledged and flown, Singing o'er those walls of stone

Which the cannon-shot had shattered.


Two angels, one of Life and one of Death, Passed o'er our village as the morning broke; The dawn was on their faces, and beneath, The sombre houses hearsed with plumes of smoke.

Their attitude and aspect were the same,

Alike their features and their robes of white; But one was crowned with amaranth, as with flame,

And one with asphodels, like flakes of light.

I saw them pause on their celestial way; Then said I, with deep fear and doubt op


"Beat not so loud, my heart, lest thou betray

The place where thy beloved are at rest!"

And he who wore the crown of asphodels,
Descending, at my door began to knock,


my soul sank within me, as in wells The waters sink before an earthquake's shock.

I recognized the nameless agony,

The terror and the tremor and the pain,

That oft before had filled or haunted me,

And now returned with threefold strength


The door I opened to my heavenly guest,

And listened, for I thought I heard God's


And, knowing whatsoe'er he sent was best, Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice.

Then with a smile, that filled the house with light,

66 My errand is not Death, but Life,” he said; And ere I answered, passing out of sight, On his celestial embassy he sped.

'T was at thy door, O friend! and not at mine, The angel with the amaranthine wreath, Pausing, descended, and with voice divine, Whispered a word that had a sound like Death.

Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,

A shadow on those features fair and thin; And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,

Two angels issued, where but one went in.

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