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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 airnor 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 bloodfor shattered throne hath shattered thrones,
So that the nations have forgot their fears,
And cry exulting "Yea, there is a God!"



Edwin Arnold


Edwin Arnold's other poems:
  1. With a Bracelet in the Form of a Snake
  2. The Marriage
  3. The Alchemist
  4. The Rhine and The Moselle
  5. Hagar in the Wilderness


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