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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Birds of Passage

THE EMPEROR'S GLOVE

"Combien faudrait-il de peaux d'Espagne pour faire un gant de
cette grandeur?
"  A play upon the words gant, a glove, and Gand,
the French for Ghent.

On St. Baron's tower, commanding
  Half of Flanders, his domain,
Charles the Emperor once was standing,
While beneath him on the landing
  Stood Duke Alva and his train.

Like a print in books of fables,
  Or a model made for show,
With its pointed roofs and gables,
Dormer windows, scrolls and labels,
  Lay the city far below.

Through its squares and streets and alleys
  Poured the populace of Ghent;
As a routed army rallies,
Or as rivers run through valleys,
  Hurrying to their homes they went

"Nest of Lutheran misbelievers!"
  Cried Duke Alva as he gazed;
"Haunt of traitors and deceivers,
Stronghold of insurgent weavers,
  Let it to the ground be razed!"

On the Emperor's cap the feather
  Nods, as laughing he replies:
"How many skins of Spanish leather,
Think you, would, if stitched together
  Make a glove of such a size?"