In the ranks a sudden stir
Swelled to shouts of Vive l’Empereur;
Then deep silence reigned, save where
On the peaceful summer air
Choking sobs, but half suppressed,
Came from many a faithful breast
At the overwhelming blow
Dealt them here at Fontainebleau.
Could the rumor, then, be true?
Would he say to them adieu?
Would their idol and their pride,
He whom they had deified,
Leave his royal grenadiers,
Veteran troops of twenty years?
Hark! he speaks in accents low
To his Guard at Fontainebleau:—
“Comrades, brothers, we must part”;
(How his lov’d tones thrilled each heart!)
“It were wrong to you and France,
Did I once more say ‘Advance’;
On the ruins of my State
I at last must abdicate,
And with you no more can know
Happy days at Fontainebleau.
“Valiant soldiers of my Guard,
Thus to part is doubly hard;
Did you silence Prussian guns,
March beneath Italian suns,
Enter Moscow and Madrid,
Fight beside the Pyramid,
And survive grim Russia’s snow,—
Thus to yield at Fontainebleau?
“Heroes of great wars, farewell!
You have heard my empire’s knell,
Yet no hostile world’s decree
Can estrange your hearts from me;
Exiled to a tiny isle,
Through your tears you well may smile
At the realm my foes bestow,—
Elba ... after Fontainebleau!
“Now of all who once were true
I can count alone on you;
Would that each might take the place
Of the eagle I embrace!
Let the tears which on it fall
Move the souls of one and all!
Never have I loved you so
As to-day at Fontainebleau.”
Hushed his voice; a moment more,
At the passing carriage door
Gleamed Napoleon’s mournful eyes,—
Smouldering flames of sacrifice;
Then his pallid, classic face
Vanished ghostlike into space,
And a dreary sense of woe
Settled over Fontainebleau.
Dead are now those grenadiers;
Quelled are Europe’s anxious fears;
By the Seine the Emperor sleeps;
France her watch beside him keeps;
But the lonely Horse Shoe stair
Still preserves its sombre air,
For the light of long ago
Falls no more on Fontainebleau.
The son of a Japanese lord am I,—
A Prince of the olden time;
My hair is white, though black as night
In my youth and early prime;
And again and again I ask myself,
As the past I sadly scan,
Are we better or worse? Was it blessing or curse
That foreigners brought Japan?
It is barely two score years and ten
Since the epoch-making day
When a foreign fleet, through the summer heat,
Came sailing up our bay;
Still ring in my ears my father’s words,
As we watched it breast the waves,—
“If strangers land on Nippon’s strand,
We may one day be their slaves.”