William Edmondstoune Aytoun

(1813 - 1865 / Scotland)

Danube And The Euxine - Poem by William Edmondstoune Aytoun

'Danube, Danube! wherefore com'st thou
Red and raging to my caves?
Wherefore leap thy swollen waters
Madly through the broken waves?
Wherefore is thy tide so sullied
With a hue unknown to me;
Wherefore dost thou bring pollution
To the old and sacred sea?'

'Ha! rejoice, old Father Euxine!
I am brimming full and red;
Noble tidings do I carry
From my distant channel-bed.
I have been a Christian river
Dull and slow this many a year,
Rolling down my torpid waters
Through a silence morne and drear;
Have not felt the tread of armies
Trampling on my reedy shore;
Have not heard the trumpet calling,
Or the cannon's gladsome roar;
Only listened to the laughter
From the village and the town,
And the church-bells, ever jangling,
As the weary day went down.
So I lay and sorely pondered
On the days long since gone by,
When my old primæval forests
Echoed to the war-man's cry;
When the race of Thor and Odin
Held their battles by my side,
And the blood of man was mingling
Warmly with my chilly tide.
Father Euxine! thou rememb'rest
How I brought thee tribute then-
Swollen corpses, gashed and gory,
Heads and limbs of slaughter'd men?
Father Euxine! be thou joyful!
I am running red once more-
Not with heathen blood, as early,
But with gallant Christian gore!
For the old times are returning,
And the Cross is broken down,
And I hear the tocsin sounding
In the village and the town;
And the glare of burning cities
Soon shall light me on my way-
Ha! my heart is big and jocund
With the draught I drank to-day.
Ha! I feel my strength awakened,
And my brethren shout to me;
Each is leaping red and joyous
To his own awaiting sea.
Rhine and Elbe are plunging downward
Through their wild anarchic land,
Everywhere are Christians falling
By their brother Christians' hand!
Yea, the old times are returning,
And the olden gods are here!
Take my tribute, Father Euxine,
To thy waters dark and drear.
Therefore come I with my torrents,
Shaking castle, crag, and town;
Therefore, with the shout of thunder,
Sweep I herd and herdsman down;
Therefore leap I to thy bosom,
With a loud triumphal roar-
Greet me, greet me, Father Euxine,
I am Christian stream no more!'

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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