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". The Children's Crusade was left unfinished by Mr. Longfellow. It is founded upon an event which occurred in the year 1212. An army of twenty thousand children, mostly boys, under the lead of a boy of ten years, named Nicolas, set out from Cologne for the Holy Land. When they reached Genoa only seven thousand remained. There, as the sea did not divide to allow them to march dry-shod to the East, they broke up. Some got as far as Rome; two ship-loads sailed from Pisa, and were not heard of again ; the rest straggled back to Germany.
Without armor, without arms,
Journeying to the Holy Land !
WHAT is this I read in history,
Full of marvel, full of mystery,
Difficult to understand ?
Is it fiction, is it truth?
Children in the flower of youth,
Heart in heart, and hand in hand,
Ignorant of what helps or harms,
Who shall answer or divine ?
Never since the world was made
Such a wonderful crusade
Started forth for Palestine.
Never while the world shall last
Like a phenix from its shroud, Came the red sun back again.
Now around them, white with snow,
Closed the mountain peaks. Below,
Headlong from the precipice
Down into the dark abyss,
Plunged the cataract, white with foam ;
And it said, or seemed to say:
“Oh return, while yet you may,
Foolish children, to your home,
There the Holy City is !”
Other tears than yours been shed.
Courage ! lose not heart or hope;
On the mountains' southern slope
Lies Jerusalem the Holy !"
As a white rose in its pride,
By the wind in summer-tide
Tossed and loosened from the branch,
Showers its petals o'er the ground,
From the distant mountain's side,
Scattering all its snows around,
With mysterious, muffled sound,
Loosened, fell the avalanche.
Voices, echoes far and near,
Roar of winds and waters blending,
Mists uprising, clouds impending,
Filled them with a sense of fear,
Formless, nameless, never ending.
But the dauntless leader said:
“ Faint not, though your bleeding feet
O’er these slippery paths of sleet
Move but painfully and slowly ;
Other feet than yours have bled;