Verse > Anthologies > George Herbert Clarke, ed. > A Treasury of War Poetry
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George Herbert Clarke, ed. (1873–1953).  A Treasury of War Poetry.  1917.
 
32. To Russia New and Free
 
By Robert Underwood Johnson
 
 
  LAND of the Martyrs—of the martyred dead
    And martyred living—now of noble fame!
  Long wert thou saddest of the nations, wed
    To Sorrow as the fire to the flame.
Not yet relentless History had writ of Teuton shame.        5
 
  Thou knewest all the gloom of hope deferred.
    ’Twixt God and Russia wrong had built such bar
  Each by the other could no more be heard.
    Seen through the cloud, the child’s familiar star,
That once made Heaven near, had made it seem more far.        10
 
  Land of the Breaking Dawn! No more look back
    To that long night that nevermore can be:
  The sunless dungeon and the exile’s track.
    To the world’s dreams of terror let it flee.
To gentle April cruel March is now antiquity.        15
 
  Yet—of the Past one sacred relic save:
    That boundary-post ’twixt Russia and Despair,—
  Set where the dead might look upon his grave,—
    Kissed by him with his last-breathed Russian air.
Keep it to witness to the world what heroes still may dare.        20
 
  Land of New Hope, no more the minor key,
    No more the songs of exile long and lone;
  Thy tears henceforth be tears of memory.
    Sing, with the joy the joyless would have known
Who for this visioned happiness so gladly gave their own.        25
 
  Land of the warm heart and the friendly hand,
    Strike the free chord; no more the muted strings!
  Forever let the equal record stand—
    A thousand winters for this Spring of Springs,
That to a warring world, through thee, millennial longing brings.        30
 
  On thy white tablets, cleansed of royal stain,
    What message to the future mayst thou write!—
  The People’s Law, the bulwark of their reign,
    And vigilant Liberty, of ancient might,
And Brotherhood, that can alone lead to the loftiest height.        35
 
  Take, then, our hearts’ rejoicing overflow,
    Thou new-born daughter of Democracy,
  Whose coming sets the expectant earth aglow.
    Soon the glad skies thy proud new flag shall see,
And hear thy chanted hymns of hope for Russia new and free.
  April, 1917
        40
 

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