The White Czar


The White Czar is Peter the Great.    Batyushka, Father dear, and Gosudar, Sovereign, are titles the Russian people are fond of giving to the Czar in their popular songs.

    Dost thou see on the rampart's height
    That wreath of mist, in the light
    Of the midnight moon?    O, hist!
    It is not a wreath of mist;
    It is the Czar, the White Czar,
        Batyushka!    Gosudar!

    He has heard, among the dead,
    The artillery roll o'erhead;
    The drums and the tramp of feet
    Of his soldiery in the street;
    He is awake! the White Czar,
        Batyushka!    Gosudar!

    He has heard in the grave the cries
    Of his people: "Awake! arise!"
    He has rent the gold brocade
    Whereof his shroud was made;
    He is risen! the White Czar,
        Batyushka!    Gosudar!

    From the Volga and the Don
    He has led his armies on,
    Over river and morass,
    Over desert and mountain pass;
    The Czar, the Orthodox Czar,
        Batyushka!    Gosudar!

    He looks from the mountain-chain
    Toward the seas, that cleave in twain
    The continents; his hand
    Points southward o'er the land
    Of Roumili!    O Czar,
         Batyushka!    Gosudar!

    And the words break from his lips:
    "I am the builder of ships,
    And my ships shall sail these seas
    To the Pillars of Hercules!
    I say it; the White Czar,
        Batyushka!    Gosudar!

    "The Bosphorus shall be free;
    It shall make room for me;
    And the gates of its water-streets
    Be unbarred before my fleets.
    I say it; the White Czar,
        Batyushka!    Gosudar!

    "And the Christian shall no more
    Be crushed, as heretofore,
    Beneath thine iron rule,
    O Sultan of Istamboul!
    I swear it; I the Czar,
        Batyushka!    Gosudar!"


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Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow library , or . . . Read the next poem; The Windmill

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