Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DIVISION OF POLAND, by EDWIN ARNOLD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE DIVISION OF POLAND, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Upon earth's lap there lay a pleasant land
Last Line: "and cry exulting, ""yea, there is a god!"
Subject(s): Poland; Russia; Soviet Union; Russians

UPON Earth's lap there lay a pleasant land,
With mountain, wood, and river beautified,
And city-dotted. For the pleasant land
The icy North and burning South did battle
Whose it should be; and so it lay between them
Unclaimed, unowned, like the shining spoils
Under crossed lances of contending chiefs;
Or liker April days whose morn is sunshine
And evening storm. Its never-failing fields
Strong men and sturdy robed in vest of green,
And when the year was older took their payment
In grain of gold. Its ever-smiling homes
True wives and comely daughters tenanted,
Round the most holy altar of the hearth
Moving like holy ministers. To them
Sorrow and pain, envy and hate, came never;
Only the mild-eyed, kind consoler, Death,
Called them from happy life to happier,
Where eyes are shining that can have no tears,
And brows are beaming that can never frown,
And lips are breathing love that cannot lie.
There went a whisper of their happiness
Over the blue pines of the eastern woods,
Up to the icy crags where Russia's eagle
Sat lean and famine-withered. So he turned
With the hot hunger flashing in his eye,
And listened: presently upon the rock
He whet his beak, and plumed his ragged feathers,
And rose with terrible and savage clang
Into the frightened air, -- nor rose alone,
But at the sound the golden beak of Prussia
And the two-headed bird of Austria
Came swooping up, and o'er the happy land
Held bloody carnival; for each one tore
A bleeding fragment for his proper beak,
As of a kid caught straying and alone.
So there went up a cry from earth to heaven,
And pale-eyed nations asked, "Is there a God?"
But other blood than Polish blood hath dyed
Green Vistula to red, and there hath come
In these last days a dreader Nemesis, --
One who hath spoiled the spoiler, and for blood
Asked blood, -- for shattered throne hath shattered thrones,
So that the nations have forgot their fears,
And cry exulting, "Yea, there is a God!"

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