I’ve had a dream that bodes no good
Unto the Holy Brotherhood.
I may be wrong, but I confess–
As far as it is right or lawful
For one, no conjurer, to guess–
It seems to me extremely awful.
Methought, upon the Neva’s flood
A beautiful Ice Palace stood,
A dome of frost-work, on the plan
Of that once built by Empress Anne,
Which shone by moonlight–as the tale is–
Like an Aurora Borealis.
In this said Palace, furnisht all
And lighted as the best on land are,
I dreamt there was a splendid Ball,
Given by the Emperor Alexander,
To entertain with all due zeal,
Those holy gentlemen, who’ve shown a
Regard so kind for Europe’s weal,
At Troppau, Laybach and Verona.
The thought was happy–and designed
To hint how thus the human Mind
May, like the stream imprisoned there,
Be checkt and chilled, till it can bear
The heaviest Kings, that ode or sonnet
E’er yet be-praised, to dance upon it.
And all were pleased and cold and stately,
Shivering in grand illumination–
Admired the superstructure greatly,
Nor gave one thought to the foundation.
Much too the Tsar himself exulted,
To all plebeian fears a stranger,
For, Madame Krudener, when consulted,
Had pledged her word there was no danger
So, on he capered, fearless quite,
Thinking himself extremely clever,
And waltzed away with all his might,
As if the Frost would last forever.
Just fancy how a bard like me,
Who reverence monarchs, must have trembled
To see that goodly company,
At such a ticklish sport assembled.
Nor were the fears, that thus astounded
My loyal soul, at all unfounded–
For, lo! ere long, those walls so massy
Were seized with an ill-omened dripping,
And o’er the floors, now growing glassy,
Their Holinesses took to slipping.
The Tsar, half thro’ a Polonaise,
Could scarce get on for downright stumbling;
And Prussia, tho’ to slippery ways
Well used, was cursedly near tumbling.
Yet still ’twas, who could stamp the floor most,
Russia and Austria ‘mong the foremost.–
And now, to an Italian air,
This precious brace would, hand in hand, go;
Now–while old Louis, from his chair,
Intreated them his toes to spare–
Called loudly out for a Fandango.
And a Fandango, ‘faith, they had,
At which they all set to, like mad!
Never were Kings (tho’ small the expense is
Of wit among their Excellencies)
So out of all their princely senses,
But ah! that dance–that Spanish dance–
Scarce was the luckless strain begun,
When, glaring red, as ’twere a glance
Shot from an angry Southern sun,
A light thro’ all the chambers flamed,
Astonishing old Father Frost,
Who, bursting into tears, exclaimed,
“A thaw, by Jove–we’re lost, we’re lost!
“Run, France–a second Waterloo
“Is come to drown you-sauve qui peut!”
Why, why will monarchs caper so
In palaces without foundations?–
Instantly all was in a flow,
Crowns, fiddles, sceptres, decorations–
Those Royal Arms, that lookt so nice,
Cut out in the resplendent ice–
Those Eagles, handsomely provided
With double heads for double dealings–
How fast the globes and sceptres glided
Out of their claws on all the ceilings!
Proud Prussia’s double bird of prey
Tame as a spatch cock, slunk away;
While–just like France herself, when she
Proclaims how great her naval skill is–
Poor Louis’s drowning fleurs-de-lys
Imagined themselves water-lilies.
And not alone rooms, ceilings, shelves,
But–still more fatal execution–
The Great Legitimates themselves
Seemed in a state of dissolution.
The indignant Tsar–when just about
To issue a sublime Ukase,
“Whereas all light must be kept out”–
Dissolved to nothing in its blaze.
Next Prussia took his turn to melt,
And, while his lips illustrious felt
The influence of this southern air,
Some word, like “Constitution”–long
Congealed in frosty silence there–
Came slowly thawing from his tongue.
While Louis, lapsing by degrees,
And sighing out a faint adieu
To truffles, salmis, toasted cheese
And smoking fondus, quickly grew,
Himself, into a fondu too;–
Or like that goodly King they make
Of sugar for a Twelfth-night cake,
When, in some urchin’s mouth, alas!
It melts into a shapeless mass!
In short, I scarce could count a minute,
Ere the bright dome and all within it,
Kings, Fiddlers, Emperors, all were gone–
And nothing now was seen or heard
But the bright river, rushing on,
Happy as an enfranchised bird,
And prouder of that natural ray,
Shining along its chainless way–
More proudly happy thus to glide
In simple grandeur to the sea,
Than when, in sparkling fetters tied,
‘Twas deckt with all that kingly pride
Could bring to light its slavery!
Such is my dream–and, I confess,
I tremble at its awfulness.
That Spanish Dance–that southern beam–
But I say nothing–there’s my dream–
And Madame Kruedener, the she-prophet,
May make just what she pleases of it.
 “It is well-known that the Empress Anne built a palace of ice on the Neva, in 1740, which was fifty-two feet in length, and when illuminated had a surprising effect.”–PINKERTON.