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Death of Henry Wohlleb

From The Birmingham Age Herald, February 2, 1915. By John Osborn Sargent.

On the field in front of Frastenz, drawn up in battle array,
Stretched spear on spear in a crescent, the German army lay;
Behind a wall of bucklers stood bosoms steeled with pride,
And a stiff wood of lances that all assaults defied.

Oh, why, ye men of Switzerland, from your Alpine summits sally,
And armed with clubs and axes descend into the valley?
“The wood just grown at Frastenz with our axes we would fell,
To build homesteads from its branches, where Liberty may dwell.”

The Swiss on the German lances rush with impetuous shock;
It is spear on spear in all quarters—they are dashed like waves from a rock.
His teeth then gnashed the Switzer, and the mocking German cried:
“See how the snout of the greyhound is pierced by the hedgehog’s hide!”

Like a song of resurrection, then sounded from the ranks:
“Illustrious shade, Von Winkelried! To thee I render thanks;
Thou beckonest, I obey thee! Up, Swiss, and follow me!”
Thus the voice of Henry Wohlleb from the ranks rang loud and free.

From its shaft he tore the banner and twined it round his breast,
And hot with lust of death on the serried lances pressed;
His red eyes from their sockets like flaming torches glared,
And in front, in place of the banner, waved the locks of his snow white hair.

The spears of six knights together—in his hands he seizes all—
And thereon thrusts his bosom—there’s a breach in the lances’ wall.
With vengeance fired, the Switzers storm the battle’s perilous ridge,
And the corpse of Henry Wohlleb to their vengeance is the bridge.

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