Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
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William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
 
Funeral of Napoleon I.
By John Hawkins Hagarty (1816–1900)
 
(Dec. 15, 1840)

COLD and brilliant streams the sunlight on the wintry banks of Seine;
Gloriously the imperial city rears her pride of tower and fane;
Solemnly with deep voice pealeth Nôtre Dame, thine ancient chime;
Minute-guns the death-bell answer in the same deep, measured time.
 
On the unwonted stillness gather sounds of an advancing host,        5
As the rising tempest chafeth on St. Helen’s far-off coast;
Nearer rolls a mighty pageant, clearer swells the funeral strain;
From the barrier arch of Neuilly pours the giant burial train.
 
Dark with eagles is the sunlight, darkly on the golden air
Flap the folds of faded standards, eloquently mourning there;        10
O’er the pomp of glittering thousands, like a battle-phantom flits
Tatter’d flag of Jena, Friedland, Arcola, and Austerlitz.
 
Eagle-crown’d and garland-circled, slowly moves the stately car
’Mid a sea of plumes and horsemen, all the burial pomp of war.
Riderless, a war-worn charger follows his dead master’s bier;        15
Long since battle-trumpet roused him, he but lived to follow here.
 
From his grave ’mid Ocean’s dirges, moaning surge and sparkling foam,
Lo, the Imperial Dead returneth! lo, the Hero dust comes home!
He hath left the Atlantic island, lonely vale and willow-tree,
’Neath the Invalides to slumber, ’mid the Gallic chivalry.        20
 
Glorious tomb o’er glorious sleepers! gallant fellowship to share—
Paladin and peer and marshal—France, thy noblest dust is there!
Names that light thy battle annals, names that shook the heart of earth!
Stars in crimson War’s horizon—synonyms for martial worth!
 
Room within that shrine of heroes! place, pale spectres of the past!        25
Homage yield, ye battle-phantoms. Lo, your mightiest comes at last!
Was his course the Woe out-thunder’d from prophetic trumpet’s lips?
Was his type the ghostly horseman shadow’d in the Apocalypse?
 
Grey-hair’d soldiers gather round him, relics of an age of war,
Followers of the Victor-Eagle, when his flight was wild and far.        30
Men who panted in the death-strife on Rodrigo’s bloody ridge,
Hearts that sicken’d at the death-shriek from the Russian’s shatter’d bridge;
 
Men who heard the immortal war-cry of the wild Egyptian fight—
‘Forty centuries o’erlook us from yon Pyramid’s grey height!’
They who heard the moans of Jaffa, and the breach of Acre knew,        35
They who rushed their foaming war-steeds on the squares of Waterloo;
 
They who loved him, they who fear’d him, they who in his dark hour fled,
Round the mighty burial gather, spellbound by the awful Dead!
Churchmen, princes, statesmen, warriors, all a kingdom’s chief array,
And the Fox stands, crownèd mourner, by the Eagle’s hero clay!        40
 
But the last high rite is paid him, and the last deep knell is rung,
And the cannons’ iron voices have their thunder-requiem sung;
And, ’mid banners idly drooping, silent gloom and mouldering state,
Shall the trampler of the world upon the Judgement-trumpet wait.
 
Yet his ancient foes had given him nobler monumental pile,        45
Where the everlasting dirges moan’d around the burial isle;
Pyramid upheaved by Ocean in his loneliest wilds afar,
For the War-King thunder-stricken from his fiery battle-car!
 
 
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