A Voice from the Nile, and Other Poems/Despotism tempered by Dynamite

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Despotism tempered by Dynamite by James Thomson (B.V.)
Extracted from A Voice from the Nile, and Other Poems, edited by Bertram Dobell

DESPOTISM TEMPERED BY
DYNAMITE.


━━0━━


There is no other title in the world
So proud as mine, who am no law-cramped king,
No mere imperial monarch absolute,
The White Tsar worshipped as a visible God,
As Lord of Heaven no less that Lord of Earth—
     I look with terror to my crowning day.

Through half of Europe my dominions spread,
And then through half of Asia to the shores
Of Earth's great ocean washing the New World;
And nothing bounds them to the Northern Pole,
They merge into the everlasting ice—
     I look with terror to my crowning day.

Full eighty million subjects worship me—
Their father, high priest, monarch, God on earth;

My children who but hold their lives with mine
For our most Holy Russia dear and great,
Whose might is concentrated in my hands—
     I look with terror to my crowning day.

I chain and gag with chains and gags of iron
The impious hands and mouths that dare express
A word against my sacred sovranty;
The half of Asia is my prison-house,
Myriads of convicts lost in its Immense—
     I look with terror to my crowning day.

I cannot chain and gag the evil thoughts
Of men and women poisoned by the West,
Frenzied in soul by the anarchic West;
These thoughts transmute themselves to dynamite;
My sire was borne all shattered to his tomb—
     I look with terror to my crowning day.

My peasants rise to their unvarying toil,
And go to sleep outwearied by their toil,
Without the hope of any better life.
But with no hope they have no deadly fear,
They sleep and eat their scanty food in peace—
     I look with terror to my crowning day.


My palaces are prisons to myself;
I taste no food that may not poison me;
I plant no footstep sure it will not stir
Instant destruction of explosive fire;
I look with terror to each day and night—
     With tenfold terror to my crowning day.


May, 1882


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