James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

March 13

Alexander II.

By Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

  • Assassinated by the Nihilists in St. Petersburg on March 13, 1881.

  • FROM him did forty million serfs, endowed

    Each with six feet of death-due soil, receive

    Rich freeborn lifelong land, whereon to sheave

    Their country’s harvest. These to-day aloud

    Demand of Heaven a Father’s blood,—sore bowed

    With tears and thrilled with wrath; who, while they grieve,

    On every guilty head would fain achieve

    All torment by his edicts disallowed.

    He stayed the knout’s red-ravening fangs; and first

    Of Russian traitors, his own murderers go

    White to the tomb. While he,—laid foully low

    With limbs red-rent, with festering brain which erst

    Killed kingly freedom,—’gainst the deed accurst

    To God bears witness of his people’s woe.