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?"


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Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; The Evening Star

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