Bohemian legends and other poems/John Huss

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For other versions of this work, see John Huss (Kopta).

Oh, mother earth, this son of thine
Was worthy of the highest place,
And though his ashes in the Rhine
Were thrown, he lives still in his race.
A dauntless soul that spoke the truth,
When all the world in darkness slept;
Bohemia’s martyred son in sooth
Blanched not, though friends around him wept.

Whom should I fear? The Emperor’s pass
Promises liberty and peace.”
But still his friends said: “Alas!
We much misgive us of that peace.”
Whom should I fear then? Those who kill
The body, but have no more power
Over the soul that triumphs still,
And conquers in the dying hour?”

Nay, weep not, I must go from hence,
I must speak out the words of God;
I must make out my own defense,
And prove it by the word of God;
I will come back without the blot
Of heresy upon my name;
Then blessed, forsooth, will be my lot,
And great indeed Bohemia’s fame.”

He went in faith—he went in hope—
And prison walls, and dungeon cell,
And torture of the chain and rope,
Were his in that far land as well.
They would not listen to his speech;
Unheard, he was condemned to die.
In vain he cried, “I do beseech—
Oh, listen to me ere I die.”

Worn down by prison and by pain,
Denied a counsellor for his cause,
He called on God to help again
His servant in the general pause.
He was condemned, they listened not
To words of his, however plain.
What cared those priests for truth? I wot
They scorned him in their proud disdain.

They placed the cap upon his brow,
Painted with devils strange and wild,
And tortured him—yes, even now—
With gibe and curse, at which he smiled.
With eyes upturned he prayed to God,
Till his brave voice was hushed for aye.
No greater martyr fled to God,
Than he they burnt upon that day.

They burned him—yes that spirit high
Was borne to God, by fiery wings;
Praying for them he rose on high,
Released from all these worldly things.
He has no statue in the land
Where he was born, and loved so well;
But in the hearts of a small band,
His ever living memory dwells.

Oh, mother earth, this son of thine
Was worthy of the highest place.
Oh, yes, Bohemia, he is thine,
Born of thy own heroic race.
Oh, Christian world, he too is thine,
A martyr for the Christian faith.
Oh, God of gods, he now is thine,
Who died for Thee, and in Thy faith.