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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Joseph Christian Freiherr von Zedlitz (1790–1862)

The Midnight Review

AT dead of night the drummer

From out his grave awakes,

And with his drum parading,

His wonted round he takes.

His arms all bare and fleshless

In eddying circles flew,

And beat the roll with vigor,

The larum and tattoo.

Oh, strange and loud resounded

That drum amidst the gloom.

The warriors that slumbered

Awakened in their tomb;

And they who sleep congealing

’Mid northern ice and snow,

And they who lie in Italy

Where scorching summers glow,

And they whom the Nile’s slime covers,

And Araby’s glowing sand,

From out their graves arising

All take their arms in hand.

The trumpeter at midnight

Quits, too, his grave to blow

His blast so shrill and piercing,

And rideth to and fro.

There, coming on spectral chargers,

The ghastly dead behold!

The blood-stained ancient squadrons

With weapons manifold!

The grinning skulls so ghastly

Beneath their helmets peer;

In their bony hands uplifted

Their gleaming swords appear.

At midnight’s ghostly hour

The chieftain quits his grave;

Advances, slowly riding,

Amid his chosen brave.

No plume his helm adorneth,

His garb no regal pride,

And small is the polished sabre

That’s girded to his side.

The moon shines bright, illuming

The plain with silver rays;

That chief with the plumeless helmet

His warrior host surveys.

The ranks, their arms presenting,

Then shoulder arms anew,

And pass with music’s clangor

Before him in review.

The generals and marshals

Round in a circle stand;

The chieftain whispers softly

To one at his right hand.

From rank to rank resounding

It fleeth o’er the plain:

“La France,”—this is their watchword;

The password, “St. Hélène!”

Thus at the midnight hour,

In the Elysian plain,

The dead and mighty Cæsar

Reviews his warrior train.