Tennyson on Russia’s 1790s Invasions of Poland
Given the present depredations of Russia against the Ukraine, Alfred Tennyson’s sonnet, “Poland”, seems hauntingly relevant.
Published in 1830, the sonnet deals with the Russian invasion of Poland in 1792 and Russia’s suppression of the Polish Uprising of 1794.
How long, O God, shall men be ridden down,
And trampled under by the last and least
Of men? The heart of Poland hath not ceased
To quiver, tho’ her sacred blood doth drown
The fields; and out of every smouldering town
Cries to Thee, lest brute Power be increased,
Till that o’ergrown Barbarian in the East
Transgress his ample bound to some new crown:—
Cries to thee, ‘Lord, how long shall these things be?
How long this icy-hearted Muscovite
Oppress the region?’ Us, O Just and Good,
Forgive, who smiled when she was torn in three;
Us, who stand now, when we should aid the right—
A matter to be wept with tears of blood!
Alfred, Lord Tennyson