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


The King’s Jewel

By Phœbe Cary (1824–1871)

’T WAS a night to make the bravest

Shrink from the tempest’s breath,

For the winter snows were bitter,

And the winds were cruel as death.

All day on the roofs of Warsaw

Had the white storm sifted down

Till it almost hid the humble huts

Of the poor outside the town.

And it beat upon one low cottage

With a sort of reckless spite,

As if to add to their wretchedness

Who sat by its hearth that night;

Where Dorby, the Polish peasant,

Took his pale wife by the hand,

And told her that when the morrow came

They would have no home in the land.

No human hand would aid him

With the rent that was due at morn;

And his cold, hard-hearted landlord

Had spurned his prayers with scorn.

Then the poor man took his Bible,

And read, while his eyes grew dim,

To see if any comfort

Were written there for him;

When he suddenly heard a knocking

On the casement, soft and light:

It was n’t the storm; but what else could be

Abroad in such a night?

Then he went and opened the window,

But for wonder scarce could speak,

As a bird flew in with a jewelled ring

Held flashing in his beak.

“’T is the bird I trained,” said Dorby,

“And that is the precious ring

That once I saw on the royal hand

Of our good and gracious king.

“And if birds, as our lesson tells us,

Once came with food to men,

Who knows,” said the foolish peasant,

“But they might be sent again!”

So he hopefully went with the morning,

And knocked at the palace gate,

And gave to the king the jewel

They had searched for long and late.

And when he had heard the story

Which the peasant had to tell,

He gave him a fruitful garden,

And a home wherein to dwell.

And Dorby wrote o’er the doorway

These words that all might see:

“Thou hast called on the Lord in trouble,

And he hath delivered thee!”