The School Bag


James Clarence Mangan  

In Siberia’s wastes	
      The Ice-wind’s breath	
Woundeth like the toothèd steel;	
Lost Siberia doth reveal	
      Only blight and death.	       
Blight and death alone.	
      No Summer shines.	
Night is interblent with Day.	
In Siberia’s wastes alway	
      The blood blackens, the heart pines.	       
In Siberia’s wastes	
      No tears are shed,	
For they freeze within the brain.	
Naught is felt but dullest pain,	
      Pain acute, yet dead;	       
Pain as in a dream,	
      When years go by	
Funeral-paced, yet fugitive,	
When man lives, and doth not live,	
      Doth not live — nor die.	     
In Siberia’s wastes	
      Are sands and rocks.	
Nothing blooms of green or soft,	
But the snow-peaks rise aloft	
      And the gaunt ice-blocks.	       
And the exile there	
      Is one with those;	
They are part, and he is part,	
For the sands are in his heart,	
      And the killing snows.	       
Therefore, in those wastes	
      None curse the Czar.	
Each man’s tongue is cloven by	
The North Blast, who heweth nigh	
      With sharp scymitar.	       
And such doom each drees,	
      Till, hunger-gnawn,	
And cold-slain, he at length sinks there,	
Yet scarce more a corpse than ere	
      His last breath was drawn.   1846