Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
The Melancholy Plaint of the Russian Song
By Arthur D. Rees
 
From “Volunteers”
Ilya Vladimir, Pennsylvania

I WAS born in Russia, but I am fighting for this land,
Because I make my living here—
Yet saving none of it.
In my merry moods my motto is,
Keep money coming and going—        5
Then you’ll always have some.
Many people’s money is mouldy.
 
But in other moods I forget about that,
For I’m always looking across the seas
To the Russian plains, and longing        10
For the broad flood of the Mother Volga river,
And the gloomy forests of Smolensk.
I can see the lynxes fighting
With the falcons there,
And even hear the ravens croaking at night        15
As they divide the dead.
 
My mother I left there, and my sister;
My mother weeping as a river runs—
For that’s how we sing it in our old songs—
And my sister weeping as a streamlet flows;        20
Their tears falling like the tender dew
Upon the willow bushes and the moss.
 
They don’t know where I am now,
Yet I can almost hear them singing of me,
As in our ancient poem:        25
“Thou bringst, O Sun, thy warmth and joy to all—
Where doth thy burning beam on Ilya fall?
And hast thou in the desert dried his bow,
With sorrow sealed his quiver, and with woe?”
And I can almost see them wandering everywhere for grief:        30
Into the forests of dark oak,
Where Sorrow cuts them like an axe;
Into the fields where it mows them like a scythe,
And into a damp earth grave
That Sorrow, like a spade, has dug for them        35
Among the weeds, the beggars and the blind.
 
I hope none of this is true,—
But I don’t know!
 
 
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