Bohemian Poems, Ancient and Modern/Deliverance of Europe


WHITHER, my country’s guardian Angel, now?
Whither, O holy Genius, draw’st thou me?
I gaze upon a wide abyss below—
Is it Bohemia’s children’s grave I see?

‘’Tis of her glorious sons the cemetry,
And there thine elder brethren buried stay;
There quiet on their mothers breast they lie,
After the mighty labours of their day.

‘There from three mountains tears of sorrow flow,
Their woeful course throughout thou may’st behold,
And through the sacred land those rivers go,
Like Lethe, Styx and Acheron of old.

‘Where’er thou gazest, holy bones are there,
To which posterity is deep in debt;
Each hill thou see’st is Virtue’s sepulchre,
Each castle as a glorious record set.

‘Here doth its glorious garlands in the shade
This valiant nation to concealment give,
Upon its mother’s bosom quiet laid,
Like bees abiding in their monarch’s hive:

‘Bees, that their weapons knew with courage brave
Right well to use in many a conflict rude;
Bees, that their honey oft to others gave,
Yet earn’d but insult and ingratitude.

‘Amongst her neighbours it Bohemia was,
That lighted erst the torch of wisdom free;
The valour of Bohemia’s sons it was,
Won for the whole of Europe liberty.

‘Send thither now the glances of thine eye,
Where Olmütz dwells in ancient hoariness,
There, there, thou dost behold the “mount not high[1],”
Which wonders to the regions publishes.

‘Six centuries are now already gone
Into the ocean of eternity,
Since there that ever-glorious deed was done,
Wrought by Bohemia’s valiant chivalry.

‘Lift, lift thy head, thou glorious Hostajnow!
The glories of that sacred time proclaim!
Yourselves to all the world, ye heroes, shew!
Who there achiev’d the deed of endless fame!

‘Hear, how from out the wondrous mountain’s womb
A hollow sound right gloriously flows!
See the dark quires of spirits forwards come,
Which to the eye the mountain doth disclose!

‘Spirits of slaughter’d foes of old are they,
With threats of ruin once on Europe pour’d;
Beside their chief they stand in sad array,—
’Tis Paidar-Khan with his Tataric horde!

‘See there above, how in the clear blue sky
A noble picture doth its glories shew!
How in the proud victorious dawn on high
A starry host is gazing down below!

‘And midst in that victorious company
A jewel gleameth to his country dear,
The slayer of the Mongol-Khan is he—
’Tis Jaroslaw in glory doth appear!

‘Here is that battle-field for ever fam’d,
Here see’st the tombs of the Tataric bands,
Here were the fetters they for Europe fram’d
For ever shatter’d by Slavonic hands!

‘E’en as the ocean-waves towards the shore,
The wild ones westwards hurl’d themselves apace,
Yet did they strike and break for evermore
Against the rocks of the Bohemian race!

‘Seek’st of that hero deed the monument,
Which half the world the bliss of freedom gave?
Nature herself a glorious monument
Prepar’d for her true sons and warriors brave.

‘For them no lofty pyramid doth rise,
Inscrib’d with rows of splendid words that flow;
The Queen’s-Court Manuscript their legend is[2],
Their monument the mountain Hostajnow.

‘Go now, and that, for which thy brethren here
Shed their best blood in battle, learn to love!
Go, learn that sacred mother to revere,
For whom in fight Bohemia’s Lion strove!’

  1. See p. 7, line 6.
  2. See p. xvii of the Introductory Essay.