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


The White Czar

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

  • The White Czar is Peter the Great. Batyushka, Father dear, and Gosudar, Sovereign, are titles the Russian people are fond of giving to the Czar in their popular songs.

  • DOST thou see on the rampart’s height

    That wreath of mist, in the light

    Of the midnight moon? O, hist!

    It is not a wreath of mist;

    It is the Czar, the White Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!

    He has heard, among the dead,

    The artillery roll o’erhead;

    The drums and the tramp of feet

    Of his soldiery in the street;

    He is awake! the White Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!

    He has heard in the grave the cries

    Of his people: “Awake! arise!”

    He has rent the gold brocade

    Whereof his shroud was made;

    He is risen! the White Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!

    From the Volga and the Don,

    He has led his armies on,

    Over river and morass

    Over desert and mountain pass;

    The Czar, the Orthodox Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!

    He looks from the mountain-chain

    Toward the seas, that cleave in twain

    The continents; his hand

    Points southward o’er the land

    Of Roumili! O Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!

    And the words break from his lips:

    “I am the builder of ships,

    And my ships shall sail these seas

    To the Pillars of Hercules!

    I say it; the White Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!

    “The Bosphorus shall be free;

    It shall make room for me;

    And the gates of its water-streets

    Be unbarred before my fleets.

    I say it; the White Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!

    “And the Christian shall no more

    Be crushed, as heretofore,

    Beneath thine iron rule,

    O Sultan of Istamboul!

    I swear it! I the Czar,

    Batyushka! Gosudar!”