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



By Christopher Wordsworth (1807–1885)

(From The Invasion of Russia by Napoleon Buonaparte)

THE SPIRES of Moscow glittering from afar

In the pale lustre of yon silver star,

Her steel-clad bastions, and embattled walls,

Her domes, her fanes, and gold-bespangled halls,

No more the minstrel’s midnight music hear,

No vocal strains her silent gardens cheer:—

Save where yon holy quire, in pure array,

Through the gray portal treads its lonely way:

They with soft notes, that sigh upon the gale,

Wake the sad echoes of the sleeping vale;

Breathing, fair city, in a dirge to thee,

Their sweetest, calmest, holiest melody;

And cast, as o’er the mountain’s brow they wind,

A mournful glance, a long last look behind.

’T is past forever,—see! aloft they fly,

Yon smoldering flakes upfloating to the sky—

Till the moon fades beneath the lurid stream,

Blotted from heaven, or shoots a ghastly beam.

As some fond mourner, with averted eyes,

Kindles the pile on which a parent lies,

Thy children, Moscow, rear thy funeral pyre,

Plant the red torch, and fan the pious fire.

For wilt thou, wilt thou thy destroyer greet,

Drest with the garlands of thy own defeat;

Or bid thy vaulted domes with loud acclaim

Attune their echoes to a tyrant’s name;

Or see by feet unblest thy temples trod,

And blood-red eagles waved above the shrine of God?

Thou wilt not! Therefore with glad eyes I see

The golden flame,—the flame that sets thee free!

Thy fretted aisles, thy burnished columns, bow;

Rejoice, rejoice! thou art triumphant now.

There, there! from street to street with dreary roar

Their yellow tide the rampant billows pour,

And, whirled by winds that sweep tempestuous by,

Point their red spires, and sail along the sky.