Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Post
By Elisabeth, Queen of Roumania (Carmen Sylva) (1843–1916)
SWIFT, swift as the wind drives the great Russian Czar,
But we of Roumania are swifter by far:
Eight horses we harness for every-day speed,
But I’ve driven a team of a dozen at need.
Then over the bridges we hurry along,        5
Through village and hamlet, with shouting and song,
With a hip-hip-hurrah! swiftly onwards we go!
The birds fly above and our horses below.
When the sun burns at noon and the dust whirls on high,
Like the leaves of the forest grown withered and dry,        10
We hasten along, never slacking the rein.
The wild mountain riders come down to the plain:
Their hair and their cloaks flutter free in the wind;
The sheep and the buffaloes gallop behind;
And hip-hip hurrah! boys, with horse and with man,        15
Like the tempest we pass—let him follow who can.
When winter is here, and the storm spirit’s abroad,
Swift glideth the sledge o’er the snow-covered road;
Great drifts hide the inn and the sign-post from sight,—
’Tis an ocean of snow lying waveless and white;        20
The wolves’ and the ravens’ wild greetings we hear,
As we pass the ravine, and the precipice drear,
With a hip-hip-hurrah! From the road though we stray
No matter,—the horses will find out the way.
The rain falls in torrents; the stream, grown a flood,        25
Has shattered the bridge on our passage that stood.
The waters have risen—are rising yet more—
’Tis foolhardy daring to swim to the shore.
Ten pieces of gold, and I’ll venture my neck:
The carriage is floating—the box-seat’s the deck;        30
But hip-hip-hurrah! boys, so loud are our cheers
That the water flows back, for our shouting it fears.
A jest to the lad and a kiss to the lass,
We throw, while they linger, to watch as we pass;
His laugh still resounds, and her cheek is still red,        35
When already our bells jingle far on ahead.
Right well does our team know their silvery chime,
And we scarce slacken speed as the mountain we climb.
Then hip-hip-hurrah! boys,—nay! slowly, beware,
For steep’s the descent: we must make it with care.
*        *        *        *        *
At midnight, the streets of the town to the tread
Of our horses resound: all the sky’s glowing red;
For crowds gather round us with torches of light,
And pine-boughs all blazing, to stare at the sight.
A crack of the whip, and a cheer and a song,        45
Through a circle of fire we clatter along;
And hip-hip-hurrah! through the glow and the glare,
Through flowers and folk, e’er a halt we declare.
*        *        *        *        *
Even if I were dead, I could never lie still:
I should hasten afield over valley and hill.        50
I’d take the light reins and the whip in my hand,
And scarce in the saddle I’d fly through the land.
No dull, droning chant and procession for me,—
I’d turn in my coffin such doings to see;
And hip-hip-hurrah! from the bier and its gloom        55
I’d leap to the saddle and drive to my tomb.

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