Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CARTOONS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, by STIRLING BOWEN



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CARTOONS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, by            
First Line: You must have shocked your father when you came
Last Line: We bear or hurl till we or kings fall dead.
Subject(s): French Revolution (1848); February Revolution


I. MIRABEAU

You must have shocked your father when you came,
Club-footed, pimpled. 'Twas for him as when
A gardener finds a crooked root to tend;
He feared the flower would stink and bring him shame.
He did not want your morals to be lame
At least. It was the same old thing again. . . .
Revolt has always claimed the best in men
And so you cried, "God damn the family name!"

And yet how sad a thing it was for France. . . .
You spent just half your strength to make France free
And half in jail through women and the dance.
And at the cry, "To arms!" you did but see
A dearer challenge in a haughty glance,
Behind the throne the lips of Queen Marie.

II. THEROIGNE DE MERICOURT

You taught more economics than a tome
Contains, you women marching on Versailles.
You were not there to save a world, or try.
Your theory was the simple monochrome
Of hunger, black as crusts you ate at home.
And either you or Louis had to die.
That simpler thinker only blinked his eye
Like Nero fiddling in the flames of Rome.

And you, Theroigne, there where none had grown,
Led forth a Reason: Women crying, "Bread,"
Plain women in the rain before a throne.
Assemblies talked, you knew not what they said.
You taught us there that hunger is the stone
We bear or hurl till we or kings fall dead.





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