Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NAPOLEON'S TOMB, by DANA BURNET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

NAPOLEON'S TOMB, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Through the great doors, where paris flowed.
Last Line: Beneath the silent, cold, anonymous stars.
Subject(s): Napoleon I (1769-1821); World War I - France

THROUGH the great doors, where Paris flowed incessant,
Fell certain dimness, as of some poised hour,
Caught from the ashes of the Infinite
And prisoned there in solemn purple state,
To make illusion for dead majesty!
A dusk of greatness, such as well might brood
Beneath the wings of Destiny's proud day;
A calm, immortal twilight mantling up
To the great dome, where painted triumph rides
High o'er the dust that once bestrode it all—
Nor ever fame had fairer firmament!
It was as though Ambition still should live
In marble over him; as though his dream—
From whose high tower and colored casements round
He, with a royal thievery in his eye,
Did look upon the apple of a world—
Should take this shape, and being clothed with walls.
Stand, in such permanence as matter gives
To house his glory through the centuries.

Then I went in, with Paris pressing slow,
And saw the long blue shadows folding down
Upon the casket of the Emperor.
A soldier in a faded uniform
Stood close beside me. He was one of those
Who die and leave no lament on the wind ...
And straightway gazing on him I beheld
Not death's magnificence; not fame's hushed tomb—
But grim Oblivion, and the fields of France!
And on some nameless hillside, where the night
Sets out wild flaming candles for the dead,
Innumerable corpses palely sprawled
Beneath the silent, cold, anonymous stars.

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