Nor was there
any nation could its course forbid
Until up to the Danube rode conquering Bayazid...
From one bank to the other a bridge of boats was cast
And all that host marched over midst fanfare trumpet blast,
The bodyguard of Allah did over the Danube ride
Darkening with their numbers the Rovine countryside,
Swarming tens of thousands spreading their tents immense;
But on the far horizon stood oaks in forest dense.
Now came a company of men, in front a white flag borne,
And Bayazid regarding them enquired with haughty scorn:
"What do you want?"
"We want but peace, and if it be allowed
Our Sire would like to speak awhile with you, great Sultan proud."
At a sigh the way was cleared, and came towards the tent
A man of calm and simple mien, and with the years bent.
"Is it Mircea?"
"Yes your Highness!"
"Take heed, for caution warns,
Lest you your crown exchange against a wreath of thorns."
"That you have come, great emperor, no heed what be your aim,
While still at peace I hail you, our greetings that you came;
But, as to your good council, o may the Lord forgive,
If you do dream to win this land by force imperative;
Had you not better return home with calm and peaceful mind
And show in your imperial strength that you are just and kind...
Be the one or be the other, but little does it awe,
Gladly shall we take our fare, either peace or war."
"What, when nations open their gates before my trump
You think my hosts will stumble against a rotten stump?
You do not guess,
old dotard, the force my foes deployed
The West's most noble flower these soldiers have destroyed.
Over all the cross does shelter, emperors and kings,
The crescent moon ascending its silver shadow flings.
Aye, clad in gleaming armour the cavaliers of Malta,
The Pope who wears three crowns and guards the Holy Altar
Lightning against lightning set and thunder against thunder,
A storm that fraught the sea with fear and filled the earth with wonder.
I needed but to make a sign, a movement of my head
And all the nations in my path in wild disorder fled;
For strong to overthrow the cross did march a mighty host
Over sea its rule from land to land, on land from coast to coast;
Shattering the peace of earth as it did march along,
Darkening the countryside in tens of thousand strong.
Our lances stood uncounted like a field of growing corn,
And tremble did the ocean over which our ships were borne.
At Nicopolis you no doubt saw how many camps were brought,
As though a shining metal wall of swords and spears wrought.
But when I saw their number like the leaves and like the grass,
I swore that I would crush them down and through their midst would pass;
I swore that I would scatter them as wild upflings the foam,
And give my charger hay and oats in the Vatican at Rome...
Yet you before my legions imagine you can stand,
You ridiculous old dotard, with a bare staff in your hand?"
"To that old dotard, Emperor, ought one courtesy accord
For over all Wallachia` 'tis he the chosen lord.
And wiser you would guard your words, nor yet too loudly boast,
Lest should the furious Danube flood engulf your fleeing host.
Along the rolling ages many there were who came
Since Darius Hystaspis of tall immortal fame;
Many there were who flung their dream across the Danube's tide