Sic Semper Liberatoribus!

A poem by Emma Lazarus

March 13, 1881.

As one who feels the breathless nightmare grip
His heart-strings, and through visioned horrors fares,
Now on a thin-ledged chasm's rock-crumbling lip,
Now on a tottering pinnacle that dare
The front of heaven, while always unawares
Weird monsters start above, around, beneath,
Each glaring from some uglier mask of death,

So the White Czar imperial progress made
Through terror-haunted days. A shock, a cry
Whose echoes ring the globe - the spectre's laid.
Hurled o'er the abyss, see the crowned martyr lie
Resting in peace - fear, change, and death gone by.
Fit end for nightmare - mist of blood and tears,
Red climax to the slow, abortive years.

The world draws breath - one long, deep-shuddering sigh,
At that which dullest brain prefigured clear
As swift-sure bolt from thunder-threatening sky.
How heaven-anointed humblest lots appear
Beside his glittering eminence of fear;
His spiked crown, sackcloth purple, poisoned cates,
His golden palace honey-combed with hates.

Well is it done! A most heroic plan,
Which after myriad plots succeeds at last
In robbing of his life this poor old man,
Whose sole offense - his birthright - has but passed
To fresher blood, with younger strength recast.
What men are these, who, clamoring to be free,
Would bestialize the world to what they be?

Whose sons are they who made the snow-wreathed head
Their frenzy's target? In their Russian veins,
What alien current urged on to smite him dead,
Whose word had loosed a million Russian chains?
What brutes were they for whom such speechless pains,
So royally endured, no human thrill
Awoke, in hearts drunk with the lust to kill?

Not brutes! No tiger of the wilderness,
No jackal of the jungle, bears such brand
As man's black heart, who shrinks not to confess
The desperate deed of his deliberate hand.
Our kind, our kin, have done this thing. We stand
Bowed earthward, red with shame, to see such wrong
Prorogue Love's cause and Truth's - God knows how long!

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