Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EMILIE PLATER, by SARA JANE CLARKE LIPPINCOTT

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EMILIE PLATER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O rainbow of the battle-storm
Last Line: Then was thy fitting time to die.
Alternate Author Name(s): Greenwood, Grace
Subject(s): Poland - Wars With Russia

(The young Countess Plater did in truth die for Poland, though it was not hers
to fall in the field. Her health was destroyed by the terrible hardships which
she endured, and her heart broken that she had endured them in vain.)

O RAINBOW of the battle-storm!
Methinks thou 'rt gleaming on my sight;
I see thy fair and fragile form
Amid the thick cloud of the fight!
I mark thy glowing lips compressed,
Thy brows in haughty sternness knit,
The eager panting of thy breast,
The strange fire in thy blue eyes lit.
On, on, in maddest bravery dashing,
Thou lead'st thy band against their foes!
Now Russian blades are round thee clashing,
Now Russian ranks about thee close!
Before thy slender arm I see
The bearded Cossack reel and fall!
I hear thy voice, bold, clear, and free,
In charging cry and rallying call!
The young Pole hears it, -- through his heart
There leaps a stronger, wilder life!
Again his eyes fierce lightnings dart,
Again he plunges in the strife!
The veteran, whose life is poured
Through countless wounds upon the plain,
Hears it, and grasps his dripping sword,
To strike for Poland once again!
O Heaven, and this was all in vain!
And, matchless maiden, it was thine
To carnage, pillage, and the chain
Thy dear, lost country to resign!
Was it for this from girlish days
Thy gentle frame thou hadst inured
To midnight chill, and noontide blaze,
And all a soldier's toils endured?
For this had dreams of high endeavour,
Of triumph in the stormy strife,
Drowned with their trumpet-notes for ever
The music of a woman's life?
Thy country, glorious, brave, and fair,
Thine all of life, thine only love, --
For her alone thy constant prayer
Rose burning to the throne above!
Her name alone thy heart's depths stirred,
And filled thy soul with warlike pride,
Which gave the maiden strength to gird
The falchion on her tender side.
Yet in thy last hours, dark and lonely,
Thou, so devoted, faithful, brave,
Didst ask, in sorrowing meekness, only
Of thy adoring land -- a grave.
How was thy woman's soul betrayed,
When death's seat on thy brow was set!
Then thou didst weep above the blade,
So oft with life-blood vainly wet!
When Hope sighed out her glimmering light,
When thou didst see Sarmatia lie
Bleeding and bound in slavery's night,
Then was thy fitting time to die.

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