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


The Conquest of Finland

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

ACROSS the frozen marshes

The winds of autumn blow,

And the fen-lands of the Wetter

Are white with early snow.

But where the low, gray headlands

Look o’er the Baltic brine,

A bark is sailing in the track

Of England’s battle-line.

No wares hath she to barter

For Bothnia’s fish and grain;

She saileth not for pleasure,

She saileth not for gain.

But still by isle or mainland

She drops her anchor down,

Where’er the British cannon

Rained fire on tower and town.

Outspake the ancient Amtman,

At the gate of Helsingfors:

“Why comes this ship a-spying

In the track of England’s wars?”

“God bless her,” said the coast-guard,

“God bless the ship, I say,

The holy angels trim the sails

That speed her on her way!

“Where’er she drops her anchor,

The peasant’s heart is glad;

Where’er she spreads her parting sail,

The peasant’s heart is sad.

“Each wasted town and hamlet

She visits to restore;

To roof the shattered cabin,

And feed the starving poor.

“The sunken boats of fishers,

The foraged beeves and grain,

The spoil of flake and storehouse,

The good ship brings again.

“And so to Finland’s sorrow

The sweet amend is made,

As if the healing hand of Christ

Upon her wounds were laid!”

Then said the gray old Amtman:

“The will of God be done!

The battle lost by England’s hate

By England’s love is won!

“We braved the iron tempest

That thundered on our shore;

But when did kindness fail to find

The key to Finland’s door?

“No more from Aland’s ramparts

Shall warning signal come,

Nor startled Sweaborg hear again

The roll of midnight drum.

“Beside our fierce Black Eagle

The Dove of Peace shall rest;

And in the mouths of cannon

The sea-bird make her nest.

“For Finland, looking seaward,

No coming foe shall scan;

And the holy bells of Abo

Shall ring ‘Good-will to man!’

“Then row thy boat, O fisher!

In peace on lake and bay;

And thou, young maiden, dance again

Around the poles of May!

“Sit down, old men, together,

Old wives, in quiet spin;

Henceforth the Anglo-Saxon

Is the brother of the Finn!”