The Fall of Poland

by Albert Pike

Albert Pike

She has sunken again into slavery's tomb,
Like a thunderbolt quenching itself in the sea;
And deeply and darkly engraved is her doom,—
''Her existence is done! Let her never be free!"
From the darkness that long eddied round her she rose,
And flinging her grave-clothes of bondage aside,
A brave, bold defiance she hurled at her foes;
And her shot-riddled flag flew once more in its pride.

'Twas the battle of RIGHT against Outrage and Wrong,
The last noble struggle for life and free laws;
And every heart to whose feelings belong
Any generous impulses, prayed for her cause.

As the clouds of a tropical hurricane roll
From horizon to zenith, so swelled her array;
As the broad fields of ice drifting south from the pole,
So gathered her forces, all fierce for the fray.

For each manly heart in which beat the free blood
Of a true Polack joyfully rushed to the ranks;
Then forth to the frontier they rolled, like a flood
That, swelled with great rains, overflows all its banks.

And lo! the old flag proudly waved in the air,
Over city and plain, as of yore was its wont;
And the souls of her mighty departed were there,
Like the shades of dead gods, marching on in the front.

But the fetters are clasped on her limbs once again,
And riveted strongly, and clenched there forever;
Sad, sad, is her soul, sharp and bitter her pain,
And dark the deep dungeons where light wandereth never.

Oh, shame on you! shame on you, children of Gaul!
You had just become free, and you might have been great;
But you suffered the noblest of nations to fall,
And lie bleeding and maimed at the merciless gate

Of the grim Northern Wolf, whose white teeth, dripping red,
Yet mangle the corpse of the stag he has slain.
Shame! shame! a proud people were better be dead,
Than disgraced by ingratitude's ignoble stain.

When a word from your mouth, like the lightning's swift flame,
Would have sent back the Wolf to his lair in the snow,
And made the dull hater of Freedom as tame
As his serfs, that smile thanks in return for a blow.

When you might have been hailed the true kings of the world,
And your memory ever regarded with love;
Had you struck but one blow, but one cannon-shot hurled,
The thunders of God would have helped from above.

That then you should heed not their earnest apppeal,
Who under Napoleon fought by your side,
Nor think that you saw, through the glitter of steel,
Brave Poniatowski rejoicingly ride!

Live on, then, and crouch to your Citizen King!
This tale of your baseness shall often be sung;
And its memory, a halo of shame, round you cling,
To be never thrown off while the world has a tongue.

Last updated May 13, 2023