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Thomas Bailey Aldrich

(November 11, 1836 – March 19, 1907 / Portsmouth, New Hampshire)

Batuschka


[Author's Note: The title means "little father" or "dear little father", a term of endearment applied to the Tsar in Russian folk-song. --T.B.A.]

From yonder gilded minaret
Beside the steel-blue Neva set,
I faintly catch, from time to time,
The sweet, aerial midnight chime--
"God save the Tsar!"

Above the ravelins and the moats
Of the white citadel it floats;
And men in dungeons far beneath
Listen, and pray, and gnash their teeth--
"God save the Tsar!"

The soft reiterations sweep
Across the horrer of their sleep,
As if some dæmon in his glee
Were mocking at their misery--
"God save the Tsar!"

In his Red Palace over there,
Wakeful, he needs must hear the prayer.
How can it drown the broken cries
Wrung from his children's agonies?--
"God save the Tsar!"

Father they called him from of old--
Batuschka! . . . How his heart is cold!
Wait till a million scourgëd men
Rise in their awful might, and then
God save the Tsar!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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