Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
December 29
To Carmen Sylva
By Emma Lazarus (1849–1887)
 
          Under the name of “Carmen Sylva” the Queen of Roumania has published both prose and poetry of great merit. She was born on Dec. 29, 1843.

OH, that the golden lyre divine
Whence David smote flame-tones were mine!
Oh, that the silent harp which hung
            Untuned, unstrung,
Upon the willows by the river,        5
Would throb beneath my touch and quiver
With the old song-enchanted spell
            Of Israel!
 
Oh, that the large prophetic Voice
Would make my reed-piped throat its choice!        10
All ears should prick, all hearts should spring,
            To hear me sing
The burden of the isles, the word
Assyria knew, Damascus heard,
When, like the wind, while cedars shake,        15
            Isaiah spake.
 
For I would frame a song to-day
Winged like a bird to cleave its way
O’er land and sea that spread between,
            To where a Queen        20
Sits with a triple coronet.
Genius and Sorrow both have set
Their diadems above the gold—
            A Queen three-fold!
 
To her the forest lent its lyre,        25
Hers are the sylvan dews, the fire
Of Orient suns, the mist-wreathed gleams
            Of mountain streams.
She, the imperial Rhine’s own child,
Takes to her heart the wood-nymph wild,        30
The gypsy Pelech, and the wide,
            White Danube’s tide.
 
She who beside an infant’s bier
Long since resigned all hope to hear
The sacred name of “Mother” bless        35
            Her childlessness,
Now from a people’s sole acclaim
Receives the heart-vibrating name,
And “Mother, Mother, Mother!” fills
            The echoing hills.        40
 
Yet who is he who pines apart,
Estranged from that maternal heart,
Ungraced, unfriended, and forlorn,
            The butt of scorn?
An alien in his land of birth,        45
An outcast from his brethren’s earth,
Albeit with theirs his blood mixed well
            When Plevna fell?
 
When all Roumania’s chains were riven,
When unto all his sons was given        50
The hero’s glorious reward,
            Reaped by the sword,—
Wherefore was this poor thrall, whose chains
Hung heaviest, within whose veins
The oldest blood of freedom streamed,        55
            Still unredeemed?
 
O Mother, Poet, Queen in one!
Pity and save—he is thy son.
For poet David’s sake, the king
            Of all who sing;        60
For thine own people’s sake who share
His law, his truth, his praise, his prayer;
For his sake who was sacrificed—
            His brother—Christ!
 
 
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