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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.


A Thousand Years

By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

A THOUSAND years! Through storm and fire,

With varying fate, the work has grown,

Till Alexander crowns the spire,

Where Rurik laid the corner-stone.

The chieftain’s sword, that could not rust,

But bright in constant battle grew,

Raised to the world a throne august,—

A nation grander than he knew.

Nor he, alone; but those who have,

Through faith or deed, an equal part:

The subtle brain of Yaroslav,

Vladimir’s arm and Nikon’s heart:

The later hands, that built so well

The work sublime which these began,

And up from base to pinnacle

Wrought out the Empire’s mighty plan.

All these, to-day, are crowned anew,

And rule in splendor where they trod,

While Russia’s children throng to view

Her holy cradle, Novgorod.

From Volga’s banks; from Dwina’s side;

From pine-clad Ural, dark and long;

Or where the foaming Terek’s tide

Leaps down from Kasbek, bright with song:

From Altaï’s chain of mountain-cones;

Mongolian deserts, far and free;

And lands that bind, through changing zones,

The Eastern and the Western sea!

To every race she gives a home,

And creeds and laws enjoy her shade,

Till, far beyond the dreams of Rome,

Her Cæsar’s mandate is obeyed.

She blends the virtues they impart,

And holds, within her life combined,

The patient faith of Asia’s heart,—

The force of Europe’s restless mind.

She bids the nomad’s wanderings cease;

She binds the wild marauder fast;

Her ploughshares turn to homes of peace

The battle-fields of ages past.

And, nobler yet, she dares to know

Her future’s task, nor knows in vain;

But strikes at once the generous blow

That makes her millions men again!

So, firmer-based, her power expands,

Nor yet has seen its crowning hour,—

Still teaching to the struggling lands

That Peace the offspring is of Power.

Build, then, the storied bronze, to tell

The steps whereby this height she trod,—

The thousand years that chronicle

The toil of man, the help of God!

And may the thousand years to come—

The future ages, wise and free—

Still see her flag, and hear her drum

Across the world, from sea to sea!

Still find, a symbol stern and grand,

Her ancient eagle’s wings unshorn:

One head to watch the Western land,

And one to guard the land of morn!