Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
July 13
Charlotte Corday
          Jean Paul Marat, a famous French revolutionist, was assassinated in his bath by Charlotte Corday on July 13, 1793.

WHO is this, with calm demeanor,
  And with form of matchless grace,
Wearing yet the modest beauty
  Of her childhood in her face?
Close the white folds of her kerchief        5
  All her neck and bosom wrap,
And her soft brown hair is hidden
  Underneath her Norman cap.
This is she who left the convent,
  For the fierce and restless throngs,        10
Who were gathering head for battle,
  To avenge her country’s wrongs.
This is she who to its rescue,
  Was the foremost to advance-
She who struck to death the tyrant        15
  Of her well-beloved France.
She who had the martyr’s spirit
  To perform as she had planned;
Taking thus her life’s sweet promise
  In her own presumptuous hand.        20
All the while, herself deceiving,
  With this dangerous subtletry,—
“Evil, surely, is not evil
  If a good is gained thereby.
“If I perish for my country,        25
  Is not this a righteous deed?
If I save the lives of thousands,
  What is it that one should bleed?”
So, arraigned at the tribunal,
  This alone was her reply:        30
“It was I who did this murder,
  And I do not fear to die.”
Therefore pitying, admiration,
  More than blame, for her we feel—
Hers was noble and heroic,        35
  Though it was mistaken zeal.
And so long as France shall honour
  Those whose blood for her is shed,
Shall the name of Charlotte Corday
  Live among the martyred dead!        40

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