Champion of the Human Race

Not for him the pride of place,
Champion of the Human Race,
Victim of the tyrant’s spite,
And the nobles’ rancorous might,
The life he chose was one of seeking
Torture, misery, death, and beating –
With this intent to teach the people
That all are brothers, free and equal.
Leader of a rebel band,
He sought, at last, a foreign strand,
Fleeing from the Tsar’s dark dungeons,
Thong and rack and hangman’s bludgeons.
But the people, resolved to smash
The tyrant’s chains and flee the lash,
From Smolensk to far Tashkent,
Chafing, waited for the student.
They waited for him all to rise
‘Gainst tyrant Tsar and nobles’ prize,
To claim their right to own the land
And forever more for truth to stand,
Against the bonds so triple twined,
Dark deceivers of the human mind,
Marriage, church, and family ties,
That filled the old world with tricks and lies.

“Nihilist propaganda” found across St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, circa 1860.

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