I stood in a princely hall, and where
Round me gather'd the brave and fair,
Music in softest strains flew by,
Flashing like gems was each radiant eye;
Joining the fair in the festal dance,
Now the proud warrior lays down his lance,
And the hand which but lately the sword had grasp'd
In love's fond pressure was gently clasp'd.
But who of such lofty stature there,
Comes to unite in the revels fair,
Beauty and grace, in his movements are,
Born but to rule, 'tis the Czar, the Czar!
See the blush deepen on beauty's cheek,
As that eagle eye to the heart doth speak,
For the softest glance, yet how fierce in war,
Is the eye of the proud Imperial Czar!
The dance has ceased, and he stands alone,
Far from the scene has his spirit flown,
That spirit proud which no more can see,
Aught of the dance or minstrelsy;
For o'er barren steppes it has wander'd far,
Where the trumpet's blast tells of fiery war,
And his strongest city beleaguered lies
By the army brave of the bold Allies!
Crushing the thoughts which his bosom swell,
He leaves the scene, as the vesper bell,
Of the dim cathedral calls to prayer;
The scene is changed, we behold him there;
Soft falls the light on the chequer'd floor,
And the form of Him who our deep sins bore,
Is raised on high, whilst around are seen,
Relics of those who have sainted been.
Still dreamed I on, as sweet chaunting stole
With soothing accents upon the soul,
And quivering banners above were hung,
While incense sweet thro' the air was flung;
Now rose with triumphant swell the strain,
Then with plaintive sweetness it died again;
And the long aisles echoed its dying tone,
Till it ceased in a low and farewell moan.
Hush'd is the strain, but its tones seemed fraught
With pain and dread to the conqueror's thought,
And there swept o'er his brow a deeper gloom,
As if it betokened mysterious doom;
For the workings fierce in that mighty breast,
Of remorse and passion forbade him rest;
And near to the altar's step he came,
To seek for peace from that passion's flame.
The Priest advanced, and that proud form shook,
As the sacred bread in his hand he took;
He bowed his head to the marble floor,
But cold big drops on his brow he bore,
For a shadowy hand on the wall pass'd by,
And he knew 'twas an omen which call'd to die;
Then a voice which but he alone could hear,
The summons gave that he soon appear--
Before the throne of the King of Kings;
Still on his ear that dread voice rings,
The Priest beholds him with awe, who dare,
Encounter the ray of that eye's fierce glare?
He turned that eye on the casement dim,
And shadowy forms rose up to him,
Bleeding and dying, who still enfold,
Their banners around them in death's last hold.
He gazes still, and a weeping throng,
Widows and orphans come sweeping on,
And he hears their low and bewailing cry,
For their bosoms lords who have gone to die.
And beyond in the barren steppes below,
Lie Russia's serfs in the drifted snow,
While a glorious form is hovering nigh,
The avenging angel with sword on high!
He sees it all -- and a secret pang,
Through that all unconquered spirit rang,
And I turned to look on the conqueror dread,
I woke, 'twas a dream, and the vision fled.