Dysthanatos [Sonnet] by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Ad generem Cereris sine caede et vulnere pauci Descendunt reges, aut sicca morte tyranni. By no dry death another king goes down The way of kings. Yet may no free man’s v …

Ad generem Cereris sine caede et vulnere pauci
Descendunt reges, aut sicca morte tyranni.

By no dry death another king goes down
The way of kings. Yet may no free man’s voice,
For stern compassion and deep awe, rejoice
That one sign more is given against the crown,
That one more head those dark red waters drown
Which rise round thrones whose trembling equipoise
Is propped on sand and bloodshed and such toys
As human hearts that shrink at human frown.
The name writ red on Polish earth, the star
That was to outshine our England’s in the far
East heaven of empire–where is one that saith
Proud words now, prophesying of this White Czar?
“In bloodless pangs few kings yield up their breath,
Few tyrants perish by no violent death.”

March 14, 1881.

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