Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
June 1
Louis Napoleon
By Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)
          Killed in Africa by the Zulus on June 1, 1879, during a skirmish in the Zulu war.

EAGLE of Austerlitz! where were thy wings
  When far away upon a barbarous strand,
  In fight unequal, by an obscure hand,
Fell the last scion of thy brood of Kings!
Poor boy! thou wilt not flaunt thy cloak of red,        5
  Nor ride in state through Paris in the van
  Of thy returning legions, but instead
Thy mother France, free and republican,
Shall on thy dead and crownless forehead place
  The better laurels of a soldier’s crown,        10
  That not dishonoured should thy soul go down
To tell the mighty sire of thy race
That France hath kissed the mouth of Liberty,
  And found it sweeter than his honied bees,
  And that the giant wave Democracy        15
Breaks on the shores where Kings lay crouched at ease.

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