Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Russia
By John Gould Fletcher
 


862 A. D.
To R. N. Linscott
I
    DARKNESS broods over the east,
    Over the plain, the land of horses;
    Darkness and wintry silence
    And death.
 
The Northmen enter Russia    But a blue-white light from the north        5
    Suddenly flares up at midnight;
    And in the glare, on the horizon,
    A horseman rides alone.
 
    He sits on his great white horse;
    A strong white bow is in his hands;        10
    Beneath his gold-horned helmet
    Thick braids of golden hair descend.
 
    He goes forth conquering and to conquer,
    He goes forth seeking a golden crown—
    From the frozen marshes of the north        15
    To where the rivers bend south-eastward.
 
Rurik, Sineus and Truvor and their descendants found great cities    A brood of lions follow him,
    Shaggy-haired, with broad golden manes;
    Eaters of sheep,
    Founders of cities.        20
 
    In the depths of the steppe,
    Upon the banks of broad golden rivers,
    Facing south-westward,
    The cities rise:
 
    Kiev with its golden domes        25
    On which there stands the Cross,
    Vladimir, Ryazan, Tver,
    Novgorod, Moscow.
 
    Lord Novgorod the great
    Looks to the north and east;        30
    Moscow sits in the centre,
    And dreams.
 
The cities contend with each other for the mastery    The heroes go forth every morning
    To battle with each other.
    At night about the wine-board        35
    They sit, feasting.
 

1224 A. D.
II
    Out of the east
    Comes the great dawn;
    Red is the dawn,
    Red and fearful.        40
 
The Tatars suddenly invade Russia    From the south-east
    Runs a red horse;
    Foam drips from his bridle-bits,
    His hoof withers the grass.
 
    Dark is the man        45
    Who rides on him,
    Clad in black armor,
    Lean and yellow his face.
 
    He carries a great black sword
    With which to smite the people;        50
    He has power to take peace from the earth.
    That men may kill each other.
 
    Under the yoke
    The princes pass;
    They are his oxen,        55
    He their lord.
 
Russia pays tribute to the Khan of the Western Mongols    Every day in the mills
    The grain is ground;
    Each day rich tribute
    Goes to the Golden Horde.        60
 
Whose capitol is on the Lower Volga    Down at Sarai
    Is the camp of the Khan;
    Wearily travel
    The oxen thither.
 
    Down at Sarai        65
    The great Khan sleeps,
    But the claws of his falcons
    Are fastened into the lion’s throat.
 

1380 A. D.
The Tatars are defeated by the Princes of Moscow, who attain to great power
    
III
    Noonday within the east,
    Noonday and a loud sound of bells        70
    Pealing and crying
    That the Third Rome is born.
 
    Out of the great red gates
    Of the Third Rome
    Rides a man in scarlet        75
    Mounted upon a black horse.
 
    A golden cross is on his breast,
    A pair of scales is in his hand
    With which to measure and fit the earth,
    With which to weigh the people’s grain.        80
 
    A measure of wheat for a penny,
    And three measures of barley for a penny.
    See that thou hurt not oil or wine,
    See that the land is tilled.
 
And crush the remaining independent principalities    But woe to thee, city of Pskov!        85
    Woe to thee, Lord Novgorod!
    The weight of the law of the Third Rome
    Shall break your liberty.
 
Great expansion of the Muscovy power    Woe to thee, people of Rus,
    Who set at nought the scales of law:        90
    North, east, south, west, you shall wander,
    But never find a home.
 

1603 A. D.
“The Troublous Times”
    
IV
    Darkness broods over the east,
    Over the plain, that land of horses;
    Darkness and wintry silence        95
    And death.
 
    Far away to the west
    Hangs a great crimson fire;
    It is the sunlight departing
    Over the plain.        100
 
Rise of the House of Romanov: Peter the Great, 1689–1725    Out of the west there rides
    The horseman of the twilight,
    The great pale horseman
    Whose name is Death.
 
    And he carries in his hand        105
    A lash of thongs;
    And he has power to slay
    With hunger.
 
    And the eagles of the west
    Pass after him;        110
    Sea-eagles unsated
    Fan with their dark wings his face.
 
    Darkness settles faster
    Upon the plain;
    But the man on the gaunt grey horse        115
    Rides on.
 
    On to the north
    Where a blue-white light faintly glimmers
    Over the black pine-forests,
    Over the frozen seas.        120
 
Founding of Petrograd, the third capital of Russia    Two cities have long ago fallen,
    But there is one city to found yet—
    A city of dreary phantoms,
    A city of death.
 
    At the edges of the north,        125
    At the borders of the locked sea,
    The pale horse rears
    And stands.
 
    Darkness, total darkness!
    And in the darkness        130
    Furiously from east to west
    The winds go forth to battle.
 

Oppressive rule—stirrings of revolt
    
V
    But the souls of them that were slain
    And buried beneath the granite
    Rise up again at midnight        135
    And cry their final cry:
 
    “How long, how long the darkness,
    How long wilt not avenge us?
    For here our blood is written
    On every inch of soil;        140
 
    “For here our cause is crushed
    Under the hoofs of proud horsemen;
    For here our cause is forgotten,
    Dead in the utter darkness.”
 
    So they cry all together,        145
    And only the silence answers.
    But the power of that silence
    Has given them power to live.
 
    And they go out to the streets of the city,
    To speak to all hearts at midnight,        150
    How the last seal will be loosened,
    The final trumpet blown.
 

1917 A. D. Revolution
    
VI
    Dawn comes out of the east,
    Dawn with a tumult of flying horses;
    White clouds of springtime,        155
    Careering, galloping.
 
    Stallion on stallion charging
    Westward, to the horizon;
    But in the midst of them
    Rides Liberty unbound.        160
 
    Her tossing, golden hair
    Is mingled with the sea of manes;
    Her voice cries, “On, you wild ones,
    Stop not nor falter!”
 
    Out of ten thousand trenches        165
    A million weary eyes
    Shall see her pass across the plains,
    And cry, “Come faster!”
 
    A million starving ones
    Shall smile at her,        170
    Shall stretch out their cold hands to her
    Before they die.
 
    A million broken ones
    Shall make their bodies
    The pathway for her feet;        175
 
    A million eager ones
    Shall leap forth from their trenches
    To follow her command.
 
    Like a white flame that gathers force
    She shall fill all the land        180
    With song of victory.
 
    Like the great flame of noon,
    She shall spread out her wings;
    And grant us all we longed for, could not find,
    The peace surpassing human understanding.

March 16, 1917, 1.15 p. m.
        185
 
 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors