Mary Hannay Foott

(1846 - 1918 / Australia)

Napoleon III


His silent spirit from the place
Slid forth unseen; amid the throng
Of those whose love outlived disgrace,
Whose fealty to the last was strong.
'Midst homage, 'neath Fate's adverse reign,
Paid to the star shorn of its rays,
How passed the Exile? Lingering fain,
As never once in prouder days?

The Mother and the Child were there,
Discrowned and disinherited!
No hand henceforth to right the heir;
New griefs to bow the golden head.
How passed Napoleon? Prizing more,
Old fame in camp and council won
Or fearless England's aegis, o'er
The future of her ally's son?

Gate of that World we know not yet,
What thou beheld'st who may proclaim!
Were spirit-ranks, in order set,
Haunting thy portals, as he came,
With voices murmuring, “Our life torch,
Unspent, was quenched at his behest”?
Did bygone princes fill the porch,
Bourbon, and Valois, and the rest?

How passed the soldier? Cold and stern,
'Mid weaponless reproachful ghosts,
As when he led them forth to learn
How fight the hardy German hosts?
How passed the Emperor where THEY gazed,
Once wearers of the ancient crown?
As one who knew its lustre blazed
The brighter ere he laid it down?

How passed he? brighter grows the dream!
Past yon accusing spirit-band,
Beyond the scornful Old Règime,
Another group of watchers stand!
Those hands are stretched to greet him now
That once Charlemagne's proud sceptre won;
While hastes Hortense with beaming brow,
No longer banished from her son!

Submitted: Monday, March 01, 2010

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