Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Russia
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX.  1876–79.
 
Alma, the River
By the Alma River
Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826–1887)
 
  WILLIE, fold your little hands;
        Let it drop, that “soldier” toy:
  Look where father’s picture stands,—
        Father, who here kissed his boy
  Not two months since,—father kind,        5
  Who this night may—  Never mind
  Mother’s sob, my Willie dear;
  Call aloud that He may hear
  Who is God of battles; say,
  “O, keep father safe this day        10
        By the Alma River.”
 
  Ask no more, child. Never heed
        Either Russ or Frank or Turk,
  Right of nations or of creed,
        Chance-poised victory’s bloody work:        15
  Any flag i’ the wind may roll
  On thy heights, Sebastopol;
  Willie, all to you and me
  Is that spot, where’er it be,
Where he stands—no other word!        20
Stands—God sure the child’s prayer heard—
        By the Alma River.
 
  Willie, listen to the bells
        Ringing through the town to-day.
  That ’s for victory. Ah, no knells        25
        For the many swept away,—
  Hundreds—thousands! Let us weep,
  We who need not,—just to keep
  Reason steady in my brain
  Till the morning comes again,        30
  Till the third dread morning tell
  Who they were that fought and fell
        By the Alma River.
 
  Come, we ’ll lay us down, my child,
        Poor the bed is, poor and hard;        35
  Yet thy father, far exiled,
        Sleeps upon the open sward,
  Dreaming of us two at home;
  Or beneath the starry dome
  Digs out trenches in the dark,        40
  Where he buries—Willie, mark—
  Where he buries those who died
  Fighting bravely at his side
        By the Alma River.
 
  Willie, Willie, go to sleep,        45
        God will keep us, O my boy;
  He will make the dull hours creep
        Faster, and send news of joy,
  When I need not shrink to meet
  Those dread placards in the street,        50
  Which for weeks will ghastly stare
  In some eyes—Child, say thy prayer
  Once again; a different one:
  Say, “O God, Thy will be done
        By the Alma River.”        55
 
 
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