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Poem by Edwin Arnold
The Division of Poland
Upon Earth's lap there lay a pleasant land, With mountain, wood, and river beautified, And city-dotted. For the pleasant land The icy North and burning South did battle Whose it should be; and so it lay between them Unclaimed, unownered, like the shining spoils Under crossed lances of contending chiefs; Or liker April days whose morn is sunshine And evening, storm. Its never failing fields Strong men and sturdy robed in vest of green, And when the year was older took their payment In grain of gold. Its ever-smiling homes, True wives and comely daughters tenanted Round the most holy altar of the hearth, Moving like holy ministers. To them Sorrow and pain, envy and hate came never; Only the mild-eyed, kind consoler, Death Called them from happy life to happier, Where eyes are shining that can have no tears, And brows are beaming that can never frown, And lips are breathing love that cannot lie. There went a whisper of their happiness Over the blue pines of the eastern woods, Up to the icy crags where Russia's eagle Sat lean and famine-withered. So he turned With the hot hunger flashing in his eye, And listened: presently upon the rock He whet his beak and plumed his ragged feathers And rose with terrible and savage clang Into the frightened air—nor rose alone, But at the sound the golden beak of Prussia, And the two-headed bird of Austria Came swooping up, and o'er the happy land Held bloody carnival; for each one tore A bleeding fragment for his proper beak, As of a kid caught straying and alone. So there went up a cry from Earth to Heaven, And pale-eyed nations asked "Is there a God?" But other blood than Polish blood hath dyed Green Vistula to red, and there hath come In these last days a dreader Nemesis— One who hath spoiled the spoiler, and for blood Asked blood—for shattered throne hath shattered thrones, So that the nations have forgot their fears, And cry exulting "Yea, there is a God!"
Edwin Arnold's other poems:
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