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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Veterans
By Théophile Gautier (1811–1872)
 
From ‘The Old Guard’

THE THING is worth considering;
Three ghosts of old veterans
In the uniform of the Old Guard,
With two shadows of hussars!
 
Since the supreme battle        5
One has grown thin, the other stout;
The coat once made to fit them
Is either too loose or too tight.
 
Don’t laugh, comrade;
But rather bow low        10
To these Achilles of an Iliad
That Homer would not have invented.
 
Their faces with the swarthy skin
Speak of Egypt with the burning sun,
And the snows of Russia        15
Still powder their white hair.
 
If their joints are stiff, it is because on the battle-field
Flags were their only blankets:
And if their sleeves don’t fit,
It is because a cannon-ball took off their arm.        20
 
 
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