Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE POWER OF RUSSIA, by THOMAS CAMPBELL



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THE POWER OF RUSSIA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: So all this gallant blood has gushe'd in vain
Last Line: Our setting star is your misfortunes' rising morn.'
Subject(s): Freedom; Russia; Liberty; Soviet Union; Russians


So all this gallant blood has gushed in vain!
And Poland by the Northern Condor's beak
And talons torn, lies prostrated again.
O, British patriots, that were wont to speak
Once loudly on this theme, now hushed or meek!
O, heartless men of Europe -- Goth and Gaul
Cold, adder-deaf to Poland's dying shriek; --
That saw the world's last land of heroes fall --
The brand of burning shame is on you all -- all -- all!

But this is not the drama's closing act!
Its tragic curtain must uprise anew.
Nations, mute accessories to the fact!
That Upas-tree of power, whose fostering dew
Was Polish blood, has yet to cast o'er you
The lengthening shadow of its head elate --
A deadly shadow, darkening Nature's hue.
To all that's hallowed, righteous, pure, and great,
Wo! wo! when they are reached by Russia's withering hate.

Russia, that on his throne of adamant,
Consults what nation's breast shall next be gored.
He on Poloria's Golgotha will plant
His standard fresh; and, horde succeeding horde,
On patriot tomb-stones he will whet the sword,
For more stupendous slaughters of the free.
Then Europe's realms, when their best blood is poured,
Shall miss thee, Poland! as they bend the knee,
All -- all in grief, but none in glory likening thee.

Why smote ye not the Giant whilst he reeled!
O, fair occasion, gone forever by!
To have locked his lances in their northern field,
Innocuous as the phantom chivalry
That flames and hurtles from yon boreal sky!
Now, wave thy pennon, Russia, o'er the land
Once Poland; build thy bristling castles high;
Dig dungeons deep; for Poland's wrested brand
Is now a weapon new to widen thy command --

An awful width! Norwegian woods shall build
His fleets; the Swede his vassal, and the Dane:
The glebe of fifty kingdoms shall be tilled
To feed his dazzling, desolating train,
Camped sumless, 'twixt the Black and Baltic main
Brute hosts, I own; but Sparta could not write,
And Rome, half-barbarous, bound Achaia's chain:
So Russia's spirit, midst Sclavonic night,
Burns with a fire more dread than all your polished light.

But Russia's limbs (so blinded statesmen say)
Are crude, and too colossal to cohere.
O, lamentable weakness! reckoning weak
The stripling Titan, strengthening year by year.
What impliment lacks he for war's career,
That grows on earth, or in its floods and mines
(Eighth sharer of the inhabitable sphere)
Whom Persia bows to, China ill confines,
And India's homage waits, when Albion's star declines?

But time will teach the Russ, even conquering War
Has handmaid arts: ay, ay, the Russ will woo
All sciences that speed Bellona's car,
All murder's tactic arts, and win them too;
But never holier Muses shall imbue
His breast, that's made of nature's basest clay:
The sabre, knout, and dungeon's vapor blue
His laws and ethics: far from him away
Are all the lovely Nine, that breathe but Freedom's day.

Say, even his serfs, half-humanized, should learn
Their human rights, -- will Mars put out his flame
In Russian bosoms? no, he'll bid them burn
A thousand years for nought but martial fame,
Like Romans: -- yet forgive me, Roman name!
Rome could impart what Russia never can;
Proud civic rights to salve submission's shame.
Our strife is coming; but in Freedom's van
The Polish eagle's fall is big with fate to man.

Proud bird of old! Mohammed's moon recoiled
Before thy swoop: had we been timely bold,
That swoop, still free, had stunned the Russ, and foiled
Earth's new oppressors, as it foiled her old.
Now thy majestic eyes are shut and cold:
And colder still Polonia's children find
The sympathetic hands, that we outhold.
But, Poles, when we are gone, the world will mind,
Ye bore the brunt of fate, and bled for humankind.

So hallowedly have ye fulfilled your part,
My pride repudiates even the sigh that blends
With Poland's name -- name written on my heart.
My heroes, my grief-consecrated friends!
Your sorrow, in nobility, transcends
Your conqueror's joy: his cheek may blush; but shame
Can tinge not yours, though exile's tear descends;
Nor would ye change your conscience, cause, and name,
For his, with all his wealth, and all his felon fame

Thee, Niemciewitz, whose song of stirring power
The Czar forbids to sound in Polish lands;
Thee, Czartoryski, in thy banished bower,
The patricide, who in thy palace stands,
May envy; proudly may Polonia's bands
Throw down their swords at Europe's feet in scorn,
Saying -- "Russia from the metal of these brands
Shall forge the fetters of your sons unborn;
Our setting star is your misfortunes' rising morn.'





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