Song Of The German Lanzknecht by Victor Hugo

(“Sonnex, clarions!”)

[Bk. VI. vii.]

Flourish the trumpet! and rattle the drum!
The Reiters are mounted! the Reiters will come!

When our bullets cease singing
And long swords cease ringing
On backplates of fearsomest foes in full flight,
We’ll dig up their dollars
To string for girls’ collars–
They’ll jingle around them before it is night!
When flourish the trumpets, etc.

We’re the Emperor’s winners
Of right royal dinners,
Where cities are served up and flanked by estates,
While we wallow in claret,
Knowing not how to spare it,
Though beer is less likely to muddle our pates–
While flourish the trumpets, etc.

Gods of battle! red-handed!
Wise it was to have banded
Such arms as are these for embracing of gain!
Hearken to each war-vulture
Crying, “Down with all culture
Of land or religion!” Hoch! to our refrain
Of flourish the trumpets, etc.

Give us “bones of the devil”
To exchange in our revel
The ingot, the gem, and yellow doubloon;
Coronets are but playthings–
We reck not who say things
When the Reiters have ridden to death! none too soon!–
To flourish of trumpet and rattle of drum,
The Reiters will finish as firm as they come!

Translated by H.L.W.

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