The Kaiser's Crown





(VERSAILLES, JANUARY 18, 1871)



The wind on the Thames blew icy breath,

The wind on the Seine blew fiery death,

The snow lay thick on tower and tree,

The streams ran black through wold and lea;

As I sat alone in London town

And dreamed a dream of the Kaiser's crown.



Holy William, that conqueror dread,

Placed it himself on his hoary head,

And sat on his throne with his nobles about,

And his captains raising the wild war-shout;

And asked himself, 'twixt a smile and a sigh,

Was ever a Kaiser so great as I?



From every jewel, from every gem

In that imperial diadem,

There came a voice and a whisper clear--

I heard it, and I still can hear--

Which said, O Kaiser great and strong,

God's sword is double-edged and long!



Aye, said the emeralds, flashing green--

The fruit shall be what the seed has been--

His realm shall reap what his hosts have sown;

Debt and misery, tear and groan,

Pang and sob, and grief and shame,

And rapine and consuming flame!



Aye, said the rubies, glowing red--

There comes new life from life-blood shed;

And though the Goth o'erride the Gaul.

Eternal justice rides o'er all!

Might may be Right for its own short day,

But Right is Might forever and aye!



Aye, said the diamonds, tongued with fire;

Grief tracks the pathways of desire.

Our Kaiser, on whose head we glow,

Takes little heed of his people's woe,

Or the deep, deep thoughts in the people's brain

That burn and throb like healing pain.



Thinks not that Germany, joyous now,

Cares naught for the crown upon his brow,

But much for the Freedom--wooed, not won--

That must be hers ere all is done,--

That gleams, and floats, and shines afar,

A glorious and approaching star!



Aye! said they all, with one accord,

He is the Kaiser, King, and Lord;

But kings are small, the people great;

And Freedom cometh, sure, though late--

A stronger than he shall cast him down!

This was my dream of the Kaiser's crown.



CHARLES MACKAY--1871.





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