Poems (1898)/Alexander III
(LIVADIA, NOVEMBER 1, 1894)
The world in mourning for a Russian Tsar!
A despot of the nineteenth century
Mourned by the nations that have made men free!
Ye captives of his rule! where'er ye be,
Whether in dungeons or in mines afar—
Wretches who mourn, yet mourn not for the Tsar,—
Forgive the tears that seem a wrong to grief
Barren of comfort and without relief!—
The Tsar was Russia's martyr,—as ye are!
He asked for peace, and she ordained him strife.
A Slav of simple heart, disliking show,
She bade him every lowly hope forego;
And placing on his brow her crown of woe,
Gave him a sovereignty with perils rife,
And 'neath his sceptre hid the assassin's knife.
So, masked as Fear, she broke his nerves of steel
Upon the circle of her racking wheel,
And set a horror at his door of life!
Humanity but sorrows for her own;
The Autocrat she mourns not, but the man,
Who, loving Russia, lived beneath her ban,
Powerless to soften fate or change the plan
That called him all unwilling to a throne,
Hereditary evils to atone.
She mourns not Cæsar, but the pathos old
Of a quick conscience, driven to uphold
A dynasty the world had long outgrown.
Woe to the Tsar!—Livadia's cannon boom,
Proclaiming that the Tsar from woe is free!
Peace to the Tsar! but, Russia, woe to thee!
Still he who rules thee shall thy victim be,
Tortured by griefs that shall his heart consume,
Till he and thou, risen as from the tomb,
Shall see the light on Liberty's calm face,
Shall know that tyranny must yield its place
To the great spirit that hath breathed its doom!