Gateway to the Classics: Poems Every Child Should Know by Mary E. Burt
Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt

The Death of Napoleon

"The Death of Napoleon," by Isaac McClellan (1806-99), was yet another of the good old reader songs taught us by a teacher of good taste. We love those teachers more the older we grow.

Wild was the night, yet a wilder night

Hung round the soldier's pillow;

In his bosom there waged a fiercer fight

Than the fight on the wrathful billow.

A few fond mourners were kneeling by,

The few that his stern heart cherished;

They knew, by his glazed and unearthly eye,

That life had nearly perished.

They knew by his awful and kingly look,

By the order hastily spoken,

That he dreamed of days when the nations shook,

And the nations' hosts were broken.

He dreamed that the Frenchman's sword still slew,

And triumphed the Frenchman's eagle,

And the struggling Austrian fled anew,

Like the hare before the beagle.

The bearded Russian he scourged again,

The Prussian's camp was routed,

And again on the hills of haughty Spain

His mighty armies shouted.

Over Egypt's sands, over Alpine snows,

At the pyramids, at the mountain,

Where the wave of the lordly Danube flows,

And by the Italian fountain,

On the snowy cliffs where mountain streams

Dash by the Switzer's dwelling,

He led again, in his dying dreams,

His hosts, the proud earth quelling.

Again Marengo's field was won,

And Jena's bloody battle;

Again the world was overrun,

Made pale at his cannon's rattle.

He died at the close of that darksome day,

A day that shall live in story;

In the rocky land they placed his clay,

"And left him alone with his glory."

Isaac McClellan.

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