The Russian Fugitive

I

ENOUGH of rose-bud lips, and eyes
  Like harebells bathed in dew,
Of cheek that with carnation vies,
  And veins of violet hue;
Earth wants not beauty that may scorn
  A likening to frail flowers;
Yea, to the stars, if they were born
  For seasons and for hours.

Through Moscow's gates, with gold unbarred,
  Stepped One at dead of night,
Whom such high beauty could not guard
  From meditated blight;
By stealth she passed, and fled as fast
  As doth the hunted fawn,
Nor stopped, till in the dappling east
  Appeared unwelcome dawn.
 
Seven days she lurked in brake and field,
  Seven nights her course renewed,
Sustained by what her scrip might yield,
  Or berries of the wood;
At length, in darkness travelling on,
  When lowly doors were shut,
The haven of her hope she won,
  Her foster-mother's hut.

'To put your love to dangerous proof
  I come,' said she, 'from far;
For I have left my Father's roof,
  In terror of the czar.'
No answer did the Matron give,
  No second look she cast,
But hung upon the fugitive,
  Embracing and embraced.

She led the Lady to a seat
  Beside the glimmering fire,
Bathed duteously her wayworn feet,
  Prevented each desire:---
The cricket chirped, the house-dog dozed,
  And on that simple bed,
Where she in childhood had reposed,
  Now rests her weary head.

When she, whose couch had been the sod,
  Whose curtain, pine or thorn,
Had breathed a sigh of thanks to God,
  Who comforts the forlorn;
While over her the Matron bent
  Sleep sealed her eyes, and stole
Feeling from limbs with travel spent,
  And trouble from the soul.

Refreshed, the Wanderer rose at morn,
  And soon again was dight
In those unworthy vestments worn
  Through long and perilous flight;
And 'O beloved Nurse,' she said,
  'My thanks with silent tears
Have unto Heaven and You been paid:
  Now listen to my fears !

'Have you forgot'---and here she smiled---
  'The babbling flatteries
You lavished on me when a child
  Disporting round your knees?
I was your lambkin, and your bird,
  Your star, your gem, your flower;
Light words, that were more lightly heard
  In many a cloudless hour!

'The blossom you so fondly praised
  Is come to bitter fruit;
A mighty One upon me gazed;
  I spurned his lawless suit,
And must be hidden from his wrath:
  You, Foster-father dear,
Will guide me in my forward path;
  I may not tarry here!
 
'I cannot bring to utter woe
  Your proved fidelity.'---
'Dear Child, sweet Mistress, say not so!
  For you we both would die.'
'Nay, nay, I come with semblance feigned
  And cheek embrowned by art;
Yet, being inwardly unstained,
  With courage will depart.'

'But whither would you, could you, flee?
  A poor Man's counsel take;
The Holy Virgin gives to me
  A thought for your dear sake;
Rest, shielded by our Lady's grace,
  And soon shall you be led
Forth to a safe abiding-place,
  Where never foot doth tread.'

II
THE dwelling of this faithful pair
  In a straggling village stood,
For One who breathed unquiet air
  A dangerous neighbourhood;
But wide around lay forest ground
  With thickets rough and blind;
And pine-trees made a heavy shade
  Impervious to the wind.
 
And there, sequestered from the eight,
  Was spread a treacherous swamp,
On which the noonday sun shed light
  As from a lonely lamp;
And midway in the unsafe morass,
  A single Island rose
Of firm dry ground, with healthful grass
  Adorned, and shady boughs.

The Woodman knew, for such the craft
  This Russian vassal plied,
That never fowler's gun, nor shaft
  Of archer, there was tried;
A sanctuary seemed the spot
  From all intrusion free;
And there he planned an artful Cot
  For perfect secrecy.

With earnest pains unchecked by dread
  Of Power's far-stretching hand,
The bold good Man his labor sped
  At nature's pure command;
Heart-soothed, and busy as a wren,
  While, in a hollow nook,
She moulds her sight-eluding den
  Above a murmuring brook.

His task accomplished to his mind,
  The twain ere break of day
Creep forth, and through the forest wind
  Their solitary way;
 Few words they speak, nor dare to slack
  Their pace from mile to mi
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William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth was the husband of Eva Bartok. more…

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"The Russian Fugitive" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 17 Oct. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/42381/the-russian-fugitive>.

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