An Unpublished Poem by Henry David Thoreau

The moon hung low o’er Provence vales,
⁠’T was night upon the sea;
Fair France was wooed by Afric gales,
⁠And paid in minstrelsy;
Along the Rhone there moves a band,
⁠Their banner in the breeze,
Of mail-clad men with iron hand,
⁠And steel on breast and knees.
The herdsman following his droves
⁠Far in the night alone,
Read faintly through the olive groves,—
⁠’T was Godfrey of Boulogne.

The mist still slumbered on the heights,
⁠The glaciers lay in shade,
The stars withdrew with faded lights,
⁠The moon went down the glade.
Proud Jura saw the day from far,
⁠And showed it to the plain;
She heard the din of coming war
⁠But told it not again:
The goatherd seated on the rocks,
⁠Dreaming of battles none,
Was wakened by his startled flocks,—
⁠’T was Godfrey of Boulogne.

Night hung upon the Danube’s stream,
⁠Deep midnight on the vales;
Along the shore no beacons gleam,
⁠No sound is on the gales;
The Turkish lord has banished care,
⁠The harem sleeps profound,
Save one fair Georgian sitting there,
⁠Upon the Moslem ground;
The lightning flashed a transient gleam,
⁠A flaring banner shone,
A host swept swiftly down the stream,—
⁠’T was Godfrey of Boulogne.

‘T was noon upon Byzantium,
⁠On street and tower and sea;
On Europe’s edge a warlike hum,
⁠Of gathered chivalry.
A troop went boldly through the throng
⁠Of Ethiops, Arabs, Huns,
Jews, Greeks and Turks,—to right their wrong;
⁠Their swords flashed thousand suns.
Their banner cleaved Byzantium’s dust,
⁠And like the sun it shone;
Their armor had acquired no rust,—
⁠’T was Godfrey of Boulogne.

The ballad here printed for the first time, through the liberality of Mr. Bixby, is probably the earliest of the extant verses of the author. (see more)