Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
September 1
Before Sedan
By Austin Dobson (1840–1921)
          “The dead hand clasped a letter.”—Special Correspondence.
  The surrender of Napoleon III. to the Emperor William I. at Sedan on Sept. 1, 1870, led directly to the fall of the Empire and the establishment of the Republic.

HERE, in this leafy place,
  Quiet he lies,
Cold, with his sightless face
  Turned to the skies;
’Tis but another dead;        5
All you can say is said.
Carry his body hence,—
  Kings must have slaves;
Kings climb to eminence
  Over men’s graves:        10
So this man’s eye is dim;—
Throw the earth over him.
What was the white you touched,
  There, at his side?
Paper his hand had clutched        15
  Tight ere he died;—
Message or wish, may be;—
Smooth out the folds and see.
Hardly the worst of us
  Here could have smiled!—        20
Only the tremulous
  Words of a child;—
Prattle, that has for stops
Just a few ruddy drops.
Look. She is sad to miss,        25
  Morning and night,
His—her dead father’s—kiss;
  Tries to be bright,
Good to mamma, and sweet.
That is all. “Marguerite.”        30
Ah, if beside the dead
  Slumbered the pain!
Ah, if the hearts that bled
  Slept with the slain!
If the grief died;—But no;—        35
Death will not have it so.

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