Skip to main content

Europe, the 72d and 73d Years of These States

EUROPE, The 72d and 73d Years of These States.

1SUDDENLY out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of  
Like lightning it le'pt forth, half startled at itself, Its feet upon the ashes and the rags—its hands tight  
 to the throats of kings.
2O hope and faith! O aching close of exiled patriots' lives! O many a sickened heart! Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves  
3And you, paid to defile the People! you liars, mark! Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts, For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worm- 
 ing from his simplicity the poor man's wages,
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken, 
 and laughed at in the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these did the blows  
 strike revenge, or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scorned the ferocity of kings.
4But the sweetness of mercy brewed bitter destruction, 
 and the frightened rulers come back,
  [ begin page 284 ]ppp.01500.292.jpg Each comes in state with his train—hangman, priest, 
Soldier, lawyer, lords, jailers, and sycophants.
5Yet behind all, hovering, stealing—lo, a Shape, Vague as the night, draped interminably, head front  
 and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see, Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted by  
 the arm,
One finger crook'd, pointed high over the top, like  
 the head of a snake appears.
6Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves—bloody  
 corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets of  
 princes are flying, the creatures of power laugh  
And all these things bear fruits—and they are good.
7Those corpses of young men, Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets—those  
 hearts pierced by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with  
 unslaughter'd vitality.
8They live in other young men, O kings! They live in brothers, again ready to defy you! They were purified by death—they were taught and  
9Not a grave of the murdered for freedom, but grows  
 seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains  
 and the snows nourish.
  [ begin page 285 ]ppp.01500.293.jpg 10Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants  
 let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, 
 counselling, cautioning.
11Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair  
 of you.
12Is the house shut? Is the master away? Nevertheless be ready—be not weary of watching, He will soon return—his messengers come anon.
Back to top