The Conquest of Finland

John Greenleaf Whittier

Across the frozen marshes
The winds of autumn blow,
And the fen-lands of the Wetter
Are white with early snow.

But where the low, gray headlands
Look o'er the Baltic brine,
A bark is sailing in the track
Of England's battle-line.

No wares hath she to barter
For Bothnia's fish and grain;
She saileth not for pleasure,
She saileth not for gain.

But still by isle or mainland
She drops her anchor down,
Where'er the British cannon
Rained fire on tower and town.

Outspake the ancient Amtman,
At the gate of Helsingfors
"Why comes this ship a-spying
In the track of England's wars?"

"God bless her," said the coast-guard,--
"God bless the ship, I say.
The holy angels trim the sails
That speed her on her way!

"Where'er she drops her anchor,
The peasant's heart is glad;
Where'er she spreads her parting sail,
The peasant's heart is sad.

"Each wasted town and hamlet
She visits to restore;
To roof the shattered cabin,
And feed the starving poor.

"The sunken boats of fishers,
The foraged beeves and grain,
The spoil of flake and storehouse,
The good ship brings again.

"And so to Finland's sorrow
The sweet amend is made,
As if the healing hand of Christ
Upon her wounds were laid!"

Then said the gray old Amtman,
"The will of God be done!
The battle lost by England's hate,
By England's love is won!

"We braved the iron tempest
That thundered on our shore;
But when did kindness fail to find
The key to Finland's door?

"No more from Aland's ramparts
Shall warning signal come,
Nor startled Sweaborg hear again
The roll of midnight drum.

"Beside our fierce Black Eagle
The Dove of Peace shall rest;
And in the mouths of cannon
The sea-bird make her nest.

"For Finland, looking seaward,
No coming foe shall scan;
And the holy bells of Abo
Shall ring, 'Good-will to man!'

"Then row thy boat, O fisher!
In peace on lake and bay;
And thou, young maiden, dance again
Around the poles of May!

"Sit down, old men, together,
Old wives, in quiet spin;
Henceforth the Anglo-Saxon
Is the brother of the Finn!"

"Joseph Sturge, with a companion, Thomas Harvey, has been visiting the shores of Finland, to ascertain the amount of mischief and loss to poor and peaceable sufferers, occasioned by the gun-boats of the allied squadrons in the late war, with a view to obtaining relief for them."-- Friends' Review.

In 1854 and 1855,  British Naval forces bombarded a number of Finnish coastal forts and cities. This Baltic campaign was a little-remembered part of what is now known as the Crimean War.

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