Nightfall in Hungary

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Nightfall in Hungary by Anne Lynch Botta
from Poems (1848)

        As when the sun in darkness sets,
            And night falls on the earth,
        Along the azure fields above
            The stars of heaven come forth;
 
        So when the sun of Liberty
            Grows dim to mortal eyes,
        From out the gloom, like radiant stars,
            The world's true heroes rise.
 
        The men of human destiny,
            Whom glorious dreams inspire;
        High-priests of Freedom, in whose souls
            Is shrined the sacred fire.
 
        The fire that through the wilderness
            In steadfast lustre streams;
        That on the future, dim and dark,
            Sheds its effulgent beams.
 
        Thus, oh Hungaria! through the night
            That wraps thee in its gloom,
        Light from one burning soul streams forth,
            A torch above thy tomb.
 
        Thy tomb! oh no -- the mouldering shroud
            The worm awhile must wear,
        Ere, from its confines springing forth,
            He wings the upper air.
 
        Thy tomb! then from its door ere long
            The stone shall roll away,
        Thou shalt come forth, and once again
            Greet the new-risen day.
 
        The day that prayed and waited for
            So long, shall surely rise,
        As surely as to-morrow's sun
            Again shall greet our eyes.
 
        What though before the shape evoked
            The coward heart has quailed,
        And when the hour, the moment came,
            The recreant arm has failed: --
 
        What though the apostate wields the sword
            With fratricidal hand,
        And the last Romans wander forth
            In exile o'er the land: --
 
        What though suspended o'er thee hangs
            The Austrian's glittering steel;
        What though thy heart is crushed beneath
            The imperial Cossack's heel: --
 
        Not to the swift is given the race,
            The battle to the strong;
        Up to the listening ear of God
            Is borne the mighty wrong.
 
        From Him the mandate has gone forth,
            The giant Power must fall;
        Oh Prophet! read'st thou not the doom,
            The writing on the wall!
 
        The slaves of Power, the sword, the scourge,
            The scaffold and the chain,
        Awhile may claim their hecatombs
            Of hero martyrs slain.
 
        But they that war with Tyranny
            Still mightier weapons bear;
        Winged, arrowy thoughts, that pierce like light,
            Impalpable as air.
 
        Thoughts that strike through the triple mail,
            That spread, and burn, and glow,
        More quenchless than that fire the Greeks
            Rained on their Moslem foe.
 
        Rest, rest in peace, heroic shades,
            Whose blood like water ran:
        For every crimson drop ye shed,
            Shall rise an arméd man.
 
        Rest, rest in peace, heroic souls,
            Who wander still on earth;
        THOUGHTS, your immortal messengers,
            Are on their mission forth.
 
        The pioneers of Liberty,
            Invincible they throng;
        They scale and undermine the towers
            And battlements of Wrong.
 
        Speak! Sages, Poets, Patriots, speak!
            And the dark pile shall fall,
        As at the Prophet's trumpet tones
            Once fell the city's wall.


This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.