The young Prince of Anhalt Dessau,
The Dowager's only son,
Was a sturdy strong-limbed fellow
And a most determined one.
Shook the tutor his locks of silver,
"And if I have any skill,
This young Prince of Anhalt Dessau,
He will always work his will.
"I cry to the Wise for wisdom,
I cry for strength to the Strong,
That I train him to stand firmly
For the right against the wrong.
"If he grow to gracious manhood,
I shall not have wrought in vain,
And my Fatherland so noble
Shall most surely reap the gain."
The Dowager in her chamber,
With pride did her blue eyes shine;
"Fatherland hath many princes,
But none of them all like mine.
"He has courage, fire and wisdom,
Yet tender of heart is he;
Proud, but just and full of pity;
This is as a prince should be.
"My son, growing up so worthy,
Shall comfort my widowed fears;
And he shall be my strong right hand,
Through the cares of future years."
The Dowager's waiting women
Said; "Our Prince gives up the chase,
And every day his steed reins he
Down there in the market-place.
"He forgets his rank so princely,
To his grievous harm and loss;
A trap for his youth so tender
Is laid by the damsel Fos."
The Princess rode in her chariot,
Away to the market-place,
With her own proud eyes beholding
The beautiful tempter's face.
But she saw a stately maiden,
With such pure and dove-like eyes,
Clothed in beauty like a flower,
Or a saint from Paradise.
"No wonder my son, so youthful,
Fixed his heart on one like thee;
For if I were a Prince of Dessau,
Willing captive I might be.
"But you are a doctor's daughter,
My son's of a princely line;
You may wed with one more humble,
But never with son of mine.
"But my son is very wilful,
We must conquer him with guile;
To foreign courts he shall away,
Where most noble ladies smile.
"One he'll see whose rank is princely,
Fair of form and fair of face;
She shall win him by her beauty
From his love in the market-place."
Said the lily maiden weeping,
"'Twere well we had never met,
Go, my Prince, to be with princes,
Be happy, and so forget."
Said the Prince of Anhalt Dessau:
"What's to be God keeps in store;
I am Prince of Anhalt Dessau,
But your lover for evermore.
"Duty is the yoke of princes,
It is good I go away;
For that widow's son there's blessing,
Who his mother can obey.
"But we who are ruling princes,
Should be patterns of faith and truth,
The Prince thou hast loved, my lily,
Shall never deceive thy youth.
"For as sure as to the ocean
Arrow-swift flows on the Rhine,
I go for my mother's pleasure,
I am coming back for thine."
A year past--the waiting-women
Said: "Our Prince is back again,"
And he shows before the Empire,
That his mother's plans are vain.
He came from the courts of Europe,
He came to his mother's knee;
But first went to the market-place,
The maiden he loved to see.
Said the Princess, "Son, you're welcome,
Anhalt Dessau's hope and pride;
Have you well and wisely chosen
For Dessau a high-born bride?"
"I saw many royal beauties,
Dames courtly and fair and kind,
But with married eyes I saw them,
For my heart was left behind."
Said the lady to her council:
"So our plans have failed thus far,
He'll forget his low-born chosen
When he learns to look on war.
"While he's gone I'll seek to rid me
Of the beauty which I dread,
I will give a precious dower
To him who shall woo and wed."
Said the Doctor to his daughter:
"Here's a life of wealth and ease,
And a fair bridegroom too, daughter,
For we must our Princess please."
"Ah me!" said the lily maiden,
"That I am the cause of strife!
Woeful is the gift of beauty--
I'll be an unwilling wife.
"I have no strength for the battle,
No more than a wounded dove;
O Leopold Anhalt Dessau,
Where art thou, my only love?"
With a moan of helpless sorrow,
From the bridegroom turned her face,
And saw a gallant troop of horse
Drawn up in the market-place.
A strong arm is soon around her,
Young Dessau is by her side,
"Draw and defend yourself, you wretch!
Who would dare to claim my bride."
Then he stood before his mother,
With a stern and angry face;
"I have stopped a gallant wedding,
Begun in the market-place.
"The maid thou wouldst give in marriage,
Is mine by her plighted word;
And his blood who would supplant me,
Has reddened on my good sword.
"Be a queen in Anhalt Dessau,
Let tower and town be thine;
But leave unto me my treasure,
This fair low-born love of mine.
"She's my first love and my last one,
And never we two shall part;
I'll take her--with rites most holy
I will bind her to my heart."
Now the holy words are spoken,
At the young Dessau's command.
He wedded the lily maiden,
And he gave her his left hand.
"What's to be," said Anhalt Dessau,
"Is known but to God above,
But I have obeyed my mother,
Been true to my early love.
"Now must I go to the battle,
Leave mother and bride behind;
My wife, be a child to my mother,
Mother, to my love be kind.
"A soldier's life is uncertain,
Let us sternly do our best,
Love and duty be our watchword,
And leave to our God the rest."
And thus the high Prince of Dessau,
While giving obedience due
To his gracious lady mother,
To his own first love was true.
* * *
He is gone away to battle,
He's always in high command;
As a man of vast resources,
Who is as the king's right hand.
Drilling, battling, planning, seiging,
The bravest of all the brave;
The wisest of all in counsel,
Loyal, courteous, kind and grave.
This was in the time of battles,
Battles for the native land;
Whatever was in safe keeping,
Was held by the strong right hand.
Anhalt Dessau, bold and daring,
Anhalt Dessau wise and slow,
With a brain full of expedients,
To subdue or outwit the foe.
In each conflict still to conquer,
In each counsel wiser grown,
Till he stood above his fellows,
A supporter of the throne.
Till the king in council chamber,
Said: "My lords we must devise
New honours for Anhalt Dessau,
My general brave and wise.
"Leopold of Anhalt Dessau,
First in counsel, first in fight,
What high reward you choose to name
Is yours by undoubted right."
"My Liege, to have served my country
And King till the strife is o'er,
To be Sovereign Prince of Dessau,
Is so much that I ask no more.
"Nought for me but that I labour
For my country all my life,
If you wish to do me honour,
Make a princess of my wife.
"I married her with my left hand,
For she was of low degree,
I'd wed her with my right--with both,
For so dear is she to me."
"We will make thy wife a princess."
Said the King with kindling brow,
"God grant she may bring to Dessau,
Many sons so brave as thou.
"You are Sovereign Prince of Dessau
By the right of princely birth,
She is Sovereign Queen of Beauty,
As fair as there walks the earth.
"She's fairest, and you the bravest,
With love for a joining band,
Shall rank equal with the noblest
That walks in our Fatherland."
* * *
Tears passed over Anhalt Dessau,
And sprinkled his locks with snow,
He had wealth, success and honours,
And his share of human woe.
His fair wife and his goodly sons
Filled his heart with joy and pride;
But that heart was wrung with sorrow,
When his only daughter died.
For ah! she was long in dying,
And his love was strong and warm;
To keep her from an early grave,
He'd have given his right arm.
She was a most winsome maiden,
And she had her mother's face;
She brought back all his wooing time,
His love in the market place.
"My daughter," he said, "you're dying,
You are fading fast away;
What is there you would have me do,
Love, before your dying day."
"Thou the kindest and the bravest,
My father most dear!" she said,
"Whate'er you've done has pleased me,
Take that comfort when I'm dead.
"But if you would do me pleasure,"
She said with a lovely smile,
"The men whom you've led in battle,
Poor fellows! the rank and file.
"I'd like to see them marching,
To feast them with mirth and glee;
When laid in my grave so early,
They'll think kindly thoughts of me."
"My daughter, of all my treasures,
The loveliest and the best;
I know that my king so gracious,
Will grant you your last request."
With banners and martial music,
With drum-beat and trumpet-blare,
They all marched to Anhalt Bernberg,
To the palace court-yard there.
With all martial pomp and clangour,
Were the salutations made,
Where, supported at the window,
The dying one was laid.
And tables were spread to feast them,
With plenty that made them groan,
But away by the Saale river,
Old Leopold wept alone.
* * *
Leopold of Anhalt Dessau,
He has reached three score and ten;
They think it time he step aside,
Giving place to younger men.
For old fashioned are his tactics,
And old fashioned too is he,
And a new king has arisen,
And new counsellors there be.
Still the old man leads the army,
But he gets no word of cheer;
For the young king is impatient,
And the courtiers laugh and jeer.
The troops are drawn up for battle,
For the long expected fight;
"'Tis my last," said Anhalt Dessau,
"May our God defend the right!"
He stood among the veterans,
Whom he had so often led;
And, according to his custom,
He uncovered his grey head.
"We are going into battle;
How many shall come away
Is known to the God of armies,
Who shall lead us through this day.
"For we have come here to conquer,
As we conquered everywhere;
Uncover, my lads, and ask for
The help that we need, in prayer.
"O God, who through life hast led me,
Help me still, this once I pray;
Nor let the shame of first defeat,
Come now when my head is grey!
"Be thou present with our army,
Do Thou let Thy might decide;
But oh! if Thou be not with us,
Be not on the other side.
"But leave it to drill and manhood,
Amen. In God's name come on."
So Leopold Anhalt Dessau,
His last battle fought and won.
And the King rescued from danger,
By the victory that day,
Lighted from his horse to greet him,
Clad in his roquelaure grey
Bowed low to him as a master
In all the warrior's art,
And then, as a friend in greeting,
Pressed the hero to his heart
Now his sword rests in the scabbard,
He has done for aye with war,
For Leopold Anhalt Dessau,
Now sleeps with the sons of Thor.