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Poem by Emma Lazarus
Sic Semper Liberatoribus!
March 13, 1881. As one who feels the breathless nightmare grip His heart-strings, and through visioned horrors fares, Now on a thin-ledged chasm's rock-crumbling lip, Now on a tottering pinnacle that dare The front of heaven, while always unawares Weird monsters start above, around, beneath, Each glaring from some uglier mask of death, So the White Czar imperial progress made Through terror-haunted days. A shock, a cry Whose echoes ring the globe--the spectre's laid. Hurled o'er the abyss, see the crowned martyr lie Resting in peace--fear, change, and death gone by. Fit end for nightmare--mist of blood and tears, Red climax to the slow, abortive years. The world draws breath--one long, deep-shuddering sigh, At that which dullest brain prefigured clear As swift-sure bolt from thunder-threatening sky. How heaven-anointed humblest lots appear Beside his glittering eminence of fear; His spiked crown, sackcloth purple, poisoned cates, His golden palace honey-combed with hates. Well is it done! A most heroic plan, Which after myriad plots succeeds at last In robbing of his life this poor old man, Whose sole offense--his birthright--has but passed To fresher blood, with younger strength recast. What men are these, who, clamoring to be free, Would bestialize the world to what they be? Whose sons are they who made the snow-wreathed head Their frenzy's target? In their Russian veins, What alien current urged on to smite him dead, Whose word had loosed a million Russian chains? What brutes were they for whom such speechless pains, So royally endured, no human thrill Awoke, in hearts drunk with the lust to kill? Not brutes! No tiger of the wilderness, No jackal of the jungle, bears such brand As man's black heart, who shrinks not to confess The desperate deed of his deliberate hand. Our kind, our kin, have done this thing. We stand Bowed earthward, red with shame, to see such wrong Prorogue Love's cause and Truth's--God knows how long!
Emma Lazarus's other poems:
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