Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Russia
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX.  1876–79.
 
Dwina, the River
The Dwina
Countess Orloff
 
Translated by Mrs. D. Ogilvie

STONY-BROWED Dwina, thy face is as flint!
Horsemen and wagons cross, scoring no dint;
Cossacks patrol thee, and leave thee as hard;
Camp-fires but blacken and spot thee, like pard;
  For the dead, silent river lies rigid and still.        5
 
Down on thy sedgy banks picket the troops,
Scaring the night-wolves with carols and whoops;
Crackle their fagots of driftwood and hay,
And the steam of their pots fills the nostrils of day;
  But the dead, silent river lies rigid and still.        10
 
Sledges pass sliding from hamlet to town:
Lovers and comrades,—and none doth he drown!
Harness-bells tinkling in musical glee,
For to none comes the sorrow that came unto me,
  And the dead, silent river lies rigid and still.        15
 
I go to the Dwina; I stand on his wave,
Where Iran, my dead, has no grass on his grave,
Stronger than granite that coffins a Czar,
Solid as pavement, and polished as spar,—
  Where the dead, silent river lies rigid and still.        20
 
Stronger than granite? Nay, falser than sand!
Fatal the clasp of thy slippery hand;
Cruel as vulture’s the clutch of thy claws;
Who shall redeem from the merciless jaws
  Of the dead, silent river, so rigid and still?        25
 
Crisp lay the new-fallen snow on thy breast;
Trembled the white moon through haze in the west;
Far in the thicket the wolf-cub was howling,
Down by the sheep-cotes the wolf-dam was prowling;
  And the dead, silent river lay rigid and still.        30
 
When Iran, my lover, my husband, my lord,
Lightly and cheerily slept on the sward,—
Light with his hopes of the morrow and me,
That the reeds on the margin leaned after to see;
  But the dead, silent river lay rigid and still.        35
 
O’er the fresh snowfall, the winter-long frost,
O’er the broad Dwina, the forester crost;
Snares at his girdle, and gun at his side,
Game-bag weighed heavy with gifts for his bride:
  And the dead, silent river lay rigid and still.        40
 
Rigid and silent, and crouching for prey,
Crouching for him who went singing his way.
Oxen were stabled, and sheep were in fold;
But Iran was struggling in torrents ice-cold,
  ’Neath the dead, silent river, so rigid and still.        45
 
Home he came never. We searched by the ford
Small was the fissure that swallowed my lord;
Glassy ice-sheetings had frozen above,—
A crystalline cover to seal up my love
  In the dead, silent river, so rigid and still.        50
 
Still by the Dwina my home-torches burn;
Faithful I watch for my bridegroom’s return
When the moon sparkles on hoar-frost and tree
I see my love crossing the Dwina to me
  O’er the dead, silent river, so rigid and still.        55
 
Always approaching, he never arrives,
Howls the northeast wind, the dusty snow drives.
Snapping like touchwood I hear the ice crack,
And my lover is drowned in the water-hole black,
  ’Neath the dead, silent river, so rigid and still.        60
 
 
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