The Curse of Hungary

John Hay

King Saloman looked from his donjon bars,
Where the Danube clamors through sedge and sand,
And he cursed with a curse his revolting land,-
With a king's deep curse of treason and wars.

He said: "May this false land know no truth!
May the good hearts die and the bad ones flourish,
And a greed of glory but live to nourish
Envy and hate in its restless youth.

"In the barren soil may the ploughshare rust,
While the sword grows bright with its fatal labor,
And blackens between each man and neighbor
The perilous cloud of a vague distrust!

"Be the noble idle, the peasant in thrall,
And each to the other as unknown things,
That with links of hatred and pride the kings
May forge firm fetters through each for all!

"May a king wrong them as they wronged their king!
May he wring their hearts as they wrung mine,
Till they pour their blood for his revels like wine,
And to women and monks their birthright fling!"

The mad king died; but the rushing river
Still brawls by the spot where his donjon stands,
And its swift waves sigh to the conscious sands
That the curse of King Saloman works forever.

For flowing by Pressbourg they heard the cheers
Ring out from the leal and cheated hearts
That were caught and chained by Theresa's arts,-
A man's cool head and a girl's hot tears!

And a star, scarce risen, they saw decline,
Where Orsova's hills looked coldly down,
As Kossuth buried the Iron Crown
And fled in the dark to the Turkish line.

And latest they saw in the summer glare
The Magyar nobles in pomp arrayed,
To shout as they saw, with his unfleshed blade,
A Hapsburg beating the harmless air.

But ever the same sad play they saw,
The same weak worship of sword and crown,
The noble crushing the humble down,
And moulding Wrong to a monstrous Law.

The donjon stands by the turbid river,
But Time is crumbling its battered towers;
And the slow light withers a despot's powers,
And a mad king's curse is not forever!

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