Henry Lawson

17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales

The Little Czar

Oh, Great White Czar of Russia, who hid your face and ran,
You’ve flung afar the grandest chance that ever came to man!
You might have been, and could have been—ah, think it to your shame!—
The Czar of all the Russias, in fact as well as name.

‘The Father of your People,’ your children called to you
To do the things to save them which only you could do.
Your soldiers whipped their faces—the trodden snow is red
With the blood of men and women; and the blood is on your head!

I saw in dreams a monarch, of his power all unaware,
Step down amongst his people from off his palace stair:
The Grand Dukes shrank and trembled, the traitors fled afar—
Through all the mighty Russias rang the order of the Czar!

You might have journeyed freely, wherever path is made,
Through all your vast dominions, alone and unafraid;
And, in the eyes of subjects, the cultured and the rude,
Have seen, instead of hatred, the tears of gratitude.

Oh, little Czar of Russia, a weak man and a fool,
At the mercy of your nobles—their prisoner and their tool—
Your freedom and your people’s and their love was to be won:
Ah, me! it would have been a deed a coward might have done.

Yet we who know so little might say one word for you:
How many in our weakness have lost our kingdoms, too!
And facing death and exile, when all the world seemed black,
How many in our after-strength have won our kingdoms back!
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