The Dream

Original Text: 
Mrs. Alfred Hayward, The Battles of the Crimea (Port Hope, Canada West: J. C. Ansley, 1855), Appendix, pp. i-iv. B-11 5919 Fisher Library.
1I stood in a princely hall, and where
2Round me gather'd the brave and fair,
3Music in softest strains flew by,
4Flashing like gems was each radiant eye;
5Joining the fair in the festal dance,
6Now the proud warrior lays down his lance,
7And the hand which but lately the sword had grasp'd
8In love's fond pressure was gently clasp'd.
9But who of such lofty stature there,
10Comes to unite in the revels fair,
11Beauty and grace, in his movements are,
13See the blush deepen on beauty's cheek,
14As that eagle eye to the heart doth speak,
15For the softest glance, yet how fierce in war,
16Is the eye of the proud Imperial Czar!
17The dance has ceased, and he stands alone,
18Far from the scene has his spirit flown,
19That spirit proud which no more can see,
20Aught of the dance or minstrelsy;
21For o'er barren steppes it has wander'd far,
22Where the trumpet's blast tells of fiery war,
24By the army brave of the bold Allies!
25Crushing the thoughts which his bosom swell,
26He leaves the scene, as the vesper bell,
27Of the dim cathedral calls to prayer;
28The scene is changed, we behold him there;
29Soft falls the light on the chequer'd floor,
30And the form of Him who our deep sins bore,
31Is raised on high, whilst around are seen,
32Relics of those who have sainted been.
33Still dreamed I on, as sweet chaunting stole
34With soothing accents upon the soul,
35And quivering banners above were hung,
36While incense sweet thro' the air was flung;
37Now rose with triumphant swell the strain,
38Then with plaintive sweetness it died again;
39And the long aisles echoed its dying tone,
40Till it ceased in a low and farewell moan.
41Hush'd is the strain, but its tones seemed fraught
42With pain and dread to the conqueror's thought,
43And there swept o'er his brow a deeper gloom,
44As if it betokened mysterious doom;
45For the workings fierce in that mighty breast,
46Of remorse and passion forbade him rest;
47And near to the altar's step he came,
48To seek for peace from that passion's flame.
49The Priest advanced, and that proud form shook,
50As the sacred bread in his hand he took;
51He bowed his head to the marble floor,
52But cold big drops on his brow he bore,
53For a shadowy hand on the wall pass'd by,
54And he knew 'twas an omen which call'd to die;
55Then a voice which but he alone could hear,
56The summons gave that he soon appear--
57Before the throne of the King of Kings;
58Still on his ear that dread voice rings,
59The Priest beholds him with awe, who dare,
60Encounter the ray of that eye's fierce glare?
61He turned that eye on the casement dim,
62And shadowy forms rose up to him,
63Bleeding and dying, who still enfold,
64Their banners around them in death's last hold.
65He gazes still, and a weeping throng,
66Widows and orphans come sweeping on,
67And he hears their low and bewailing cry,
68For their bosoms lords who have gone to die.
69And beyond in the barren steppes below,
71While a glorious form is hovering nigh,
72The avenging angel with sword on high!
73He sees it all -- and a secret pang,
74Through that all unconquered spirit rang,
75And I turned to look on the conqueror dread,


12] the Czar: Nicholas I (1796-1855), the so-called "iron czar." Back to Line
23] Sevastopol. Back to Line
70] Author's note: "20,000 serfs are said to have perished in the snows of Simpheropol." Simferopol was the major city in the Crimea. Back to Line
76] Author's note: "By a singular coincidence the astounding news of the Emperor's death arrived the day after the above was written." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.