Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


"King Alfonso the Eighth, having exhausted his treasury in war,
wishes to lay a tax of five farthings upon each of the Castillan
hidalgos, in order to defray the expenses of a journey from
Burgos to Cuenca.  This proposition of the king was met with
disdain by the noblemen who had been assembled on the occasion."

Don Nuno, Count of Lara,
  In anger and in pride,
Forgot all reverence for the king,
  And thus in wrath replied:

"Our noble ancestors," quoth he,
  "Ne'er such a tribute paid;
Nor shall the king receive of us
  What they have once gainsaid.

"The base-born soul who deems it just
  May here with thee remain;
But follow me, ye cavaliers,
  Ye noblemen of Spain."

Forth followed they the noble Count,
  They marched to Glera's plain;
Out of three thousand gallant knights
  Did only three remain.

They tied the tribute to their spears,
  They raised it in the air,
And they sent to tell their lord the king
  That his tax was ready there.

"He may send and take by force," said they,
  "This paltry sum of gold;
But the goodly gift of liberty
  Cannot be bought and sold."