Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  America to Russia

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


America to Russia

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

THOUGH watery deserts hold apart

The worlds of East and West,

Still beats the selfsame human heart

In each proud nation’s breast.

Our floating turret tempts the main,

And dares the howling blast

To clasp more close the golden chain

That long has bound them fast.

In vain the gales of ocean sweep,

In vain the billows roar

That chafe the wild and stormy steep

Of storied Elsinore.

She comes! she comes! her banners dip

In Neva’s flashing tide,

With greetings on her cannon’s lip,

The storm-god’s iron bride!

Peace garlands with the olive-bough

Her thunder-bearing tower,

And plants before her cleaving prow

The sea-foam’s milk-white flower.

No prairies heaped their garnered store

To fill her sunless hold,

Not rich Nevada’s gleaming ore

Its hidden caves infold;

But lightly as the sea-bird swings

She floats the depths above,

A breath of flame to lend her wings,

Her freight a people’s love!

When darkness hid the starry skies

In war’s long winter night,

One ray still cheered our straining eyes,

The far-off Northern light!

And now the friendly rays return

From lights that glow afar,

Those clustered lamps of Heaven that burn

Around the Western Star.

A nation’s love in tears and smiles

We bear across the sea,

O Neva of the banded isles,

We moor our hearts in thee!