Canto 21: Bonaparte

On dit que dieu est toujours pours les gros battallions!

Napoleon Bounaparte


Warrior Born

Our spirit touch’d by memories of man
& how lone man by men a legend made,
As restless time moves thro her milky span,
One nerve shall never from our vigour fade;
Napoleon!
Fame risen to the stars!
When all Europe was won & Eagles march’d with Mars!

As other young men of his age
Upheld the revolution,
Aristocratics assuage
The swift, sharp, cruel solution –
He took a step onto the stage,
Some stocky Corsican
Watching the rues run red with royal blood,
The fate of France by none more understood.

He waltzed thro’ each academy
With vision, verve & flair,
His masterly artillery
Moved with a mother’s care,
Ribalding with old warriors, of strategies aware!

France
1791


Republican Dawn

A vacuum forms where lived, once, lion’s pride,
Long line of Louis, lords of France & Spain,
Prostrate beneath the coming regicide,
Beg Bourbon cousins, “Pray restore our reign;”
Thus Austrians
French liberty to foil,
March with friendly Prussians onto King Louis’ soil.

One hundred thousand souls conjoin,
Gather’d neath Valmy’s steeple
The Cockrelle cause the only coin,
This Army of the People
Draws steely barb from belted loin,
Storms up the hard, steep hill,
The spoils of victory soon theirs to wield,
The Prussian phalanx driven from the field.

The King is forced to meet his fate
With Marie Antoinette,
Minos awaits them at the gate
To answer for their debt
Good souls died for their greed of gold, the guillotine is set…

Paris
1793


March of Napoleon

Promotion upon noble promotion
Napoleonic fame paints peaks & skies,
Opinion, from doubt to devotion,
Purported in the populace’s eyes;
When Heaven sent
Fate them must surely steer,
From lowly Lieutenant to Gen’ral Brigadeer.

The revolutionary call
Transform’d to one of conquest,
Hapsburg Flanders & Holland fall
With all of the Rhine Bank West,
Then striking thro’ Cisalpine Gaul
France faced vital contest
At the battle of Tagliamento –
Such genius, unbridled, runs the show.

As Austria’s retreats increase
Vienna shrinks in fear,
Then sues for peace, the muskets cease,
His Aide-de-Camps appear,
Heralding a great champion, in victory austere.

Leoben
1797


Napoleonica

How time has rambl’d on two hundred years
Since Malta & the brave Knights of Saint John,
Threw back the Turkish onslaughters in tears,
Began the long decaying Ottoman;
Valetta’s chests
Still bulge with Muslim gold,
While decadence infests their noble poise of old.

Upon his complex to the east
Napolen here pauses,
Finds auberges spread like a feast
Of exotic roci courses,
His greed upon Malta releas’d
All his hungry forces;
As Maltese take Libertie as a wife
Their island fell without the loss of life.

As married love may turn to woe,
Cursing the romantic,
Crude taxes grow, a death-black crow,
Future feeling frantic,
Out to Lord Nelson pleas are sent, deep in the Atlantic.

Malta
1798


Rock of Empire

While Boney battl’d at Aboukir Bay
The English have enclosed Calypso’s Isles
,Fierce ring preventing vessels, every day,
Provisioning the Gallic rank & file;
Valetta’s walls
Immune to cannon shot,
But not those hungry holes which growling stoumachs knot.

To hapless, “Vive Napoleon!”
The garrisons surrender,
Abandon’d on the hard ocean
To starve & scarlet fever,
Majestic London, from now on,
Malta’s first officer –
Where even Mdina’s nobilty
Happy to join Britain’s community.

This is the little butterfly
Whose pretty flutterwings
Beat in the sky to amplify
The hurricane that swings
Across the Earth – yet Peter’s isle shall sway the fate of kings.

Malta
1798


Eastern Complex

From Perpignan to Rheims & Brittany
Napoleon claim’d a new messiah,
Acolytic cult of celebrity
Forever man’s endeavours to inspire;
Golden Egypt!
Her Pyramids becko!,
Fabulous pharoe crypt beneath a seering sun.

At first the Tricolours prosper,
The coast is shrewdly taken
When ancyent Alexandria
To her French foes is foresaken,
But cometh now the frank terror
Of Admiral Nelson,
Fleet crippled at the Battle of the Nile –
Soon into prison boats the bluecoats file.

In youth being no new Pompey,
Nor Alexander’s kind,
He reach’d Marseille in dissarray
Leaving thousands behind,
The oriental question milling still aghast his mind.

France
1799


Imperial Intentions

Needing sharp sabres civil strife to quell,
Gallic resolve promotes a Consulate,
Three lofty men French treasure-chests to swell
& stretch the Tricolor to Calicut;
Tall in their midst,
Fresh from the sojurn East,
The prime Bonapartist, his eagles climb releas’d.

Brought to war thro’ forced conscription
Marching by the pretty Po,
His insatiable ambition
Drives men on to Marengo,
Lombardy rul’d by Austrian
Before this gory show:
A field of rampant battle until dusk,
When shatter’d Hapsburg dreams to hurt & husk.

The name is pass’d about the streets
Which hug the rocky hills,
‘With famous feats that man defeats
His foe, with fear all fills,
Let us admire Napoleon,’ scribbl’d the burghers quills.

Italy
1800


Copenhagen

Ascending in a ring of rising stars
The great Horatio steers his native bark,
From body mark’d by brutal battle scars,
Lone arm points to a stubborn Denmark;
Whose Northern League
Defends neutrality –
Parisian intrigue drives English fleets to sea.

Cleaving a path between the bouys,
Rare heart upon pinn’d sleeve worn,
These lads the adm’ralty employs,
Oaks from a press-gang’d acorn,
Shall drape the Danes in death & noise,
From wrack’d ships sailors shorn,
When Nelson’s magnaminous ministry
Rescued so many from that crimson sea.

From port-to-port the story flows,
Legendary prowess!
Consulate knows their ancyent foes
Defy naval duress,
Says Bonaparte, “We must build fleets to beat the sea’s mistress.”

France
1801


A Nervous Peace

When only rust could halt hegemony
Exists a stalemate of the warring lords –
The British crown commands the rolling sea,
Impervious to sharpen’d Gaurdsmen swords;
As rust takes time
A pact of peace is sought,
Good chance to swerve my rhyme from battles fearless fought.

An element of pageantry
Fills the roads to Amiens,
Upstanding cathedral city,
Next host of the bandwagon,
His consulate arrives as three,
But truly it was one –
Napoleon snakes as the Grecian ghouls
Taking the Saxon delegates for fools.

The beaugoisie leap on the float,
With none foreseeing strife,
Drunk with devotion most men vote
Him First Consul for life –
Now to succeed his succession he searches for a wife.

France
1802

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s