The Sack of Magdeburg

William Maginn

When the breach was open laid,
Bold we mounted to the attack;
Five times the assault was made.
Four times were we beaten back.
Many a gallant comrade fell;
In the desperate melee there
Sped their spirits ill or well.
Know I not nor do I care.

But the fifth time, up we strode
O'er the dying and the dead;
Hot the western sunbeam glowed.
Sinking in a blaze of red.
Redder in the gory way
Our deep-plashing footsteps sank,
As the cry of "Slay, slay, slay!"
Echoed fierce from rank to rank.

And we slew, and slew, and slew, —
Slew them with unpitying sword;
Negligently could we do
The commanding of the Lord?
Fled the coward, fought the brave,
Wailed the mother, wept the child;
But not one escaped the glaive, —
Man who frowned, or babe who smiled.

There were thrice ten thousand men
When the morning sun arose;
Lived not thrice three hundred when
Sunk that sun at evening close.
Then we spread the wasting flame.
Fanned to fury by the M^ind;
Of the city, — but the name
Nothing more is left behind!

Hall and palace, dome and tower,
Lowly shed and soaring spire,
Fell in that victorious hour
Which consigned the town to fire.
All that rose at craftsman's call
To its pristine dust had gone,
For inside the shattered wall
Left we never stone on stone. —

For it burnt not till it gave
All it had to yield of spoil;
Should not brave soldadoes have
Some rewarding for their toil?
What the villain sons of trade
Had amassed by years of care.
Prostrate at our bidding laid,
By one moment won, was there.

Then, within the burning town,
Mid the steaming heaps of dead,
Cheered by sounds of hostile moan,
Did we the joyous banquet spread,
Laughing loud and quaffing long,
With our glorious labors o'er;
To the sky our jocund song
Told the city was no more!


Main Location:

Magdeburg, Germany