Two Capitals-1910

by Harriet Monroe

Harriet Monroe

White Moscow of the pearly towers,
And golden domes for praise,
And chiming hours!
Red Moscow of the Kremlin walls,
And bloody battle ways,
And fire-scarred halls!
Beautiful Moscow brave and bright,
Whose banners floated toward the light
When Asia knocked at Europe's door
And bleeding tzars paid off our score-
Ah, shining city, far away
Your gaudy spires salute the day
Like opal-hearted iris flowers
Decking the blue transparent hours.
Now from your seat the slim rails run
Through Asia to the rising sun,
Along the ancient highway made
By caravan and cavalcade.
Still East and West meet at your gate-
That Kremlin gate where once in state
Great Europe's conqueror, seeking room,
Marched through triumphant to his doom.
Proud Moscow of barbaric tzars,
Of gorgeous crownings and dark wars,
Jewel-encrusted, rich with age,
Heir of a lordly heritage,
Look out from Ivan's tower of bells-
See, the vast East is proud with day!
Soon to your ancient citadels
The world will march the Asian way.
White Moscow of the pearly towers.
And golden domes for praise
And chiming hours!
Red Moscow of the Kremlin walls,
And bloody battle ways
And fire-scarred halls!
Under her yellow roofs adream
The imperial city sleeps in state,
While warrior nations, flags agleam,
Come marching through her fortress gate.
Beneath her towered wall, one by one,
The slow contemptuous camels tread,
And through it eager engines run
Over the dust of ages dead.
Peking! close bound in triple walls,
Between the old and new she lies;
The yellow dragon guards her halls,
The blare of trumpets fills her skies.
She stirs out of her age-long sleep
By the worn temples chill and still,
Where Sung and Ming and Mongol keep
Their ghostly watch from hill to hill.
Over the graves of dynasties
The winds of dawn blow free and far-
Heralds of hastening centuries,
With banners flown for peace or war.
O brooding East!
O winds of dawn!
From the night-long feast
The kings are gone.
What guests will come
Down the world's highway
At the roil of the drum
For the day?

Last updated January 14, 2019