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Poem by Robert Browning
Incident of the French Camp
I. You know, we French stormed Ratisbon: A mile or so away, On a little mound, Napoleon Stood on our storming-day; With neck out-thrust, you fancy how, Legs wide, arms locked behind, As if to balance the prone brow Oppressive with its mind. II. Just as perhaps he mused ``My plans ``That soar, to earth may fall, ``Let once my army-leader Lannes ``Waver at yonder wall,''--- Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew A rider, bound on bound Full-galloping; nor bridle drew Until he reached the mound. III. Then off there flung in smiling joy, And held himself erect By just his horse's mane, a boy: You hardly could suspect--- (So tight he kept his lips compressed, Scarce any blood came through) You looked twice ere you saw his breast Was all but shot in two. IV. ``Well,'' cried he, ``Emperor, by God's grace ``We've got you Ratisbon! ``The Marshal's in the market-place, ``And you'll be there anon ``To see your flag-bird flap his vans ``Where I, to heart's desire, ``Perched him!'' The chief's eye flashed; his plans Soared up again like fire. V. The chief's eye flashed; but presently Softened itself, as sheathes A film the mother-eagle's eye When her bruised eaglet breathes; ``You're wounded!'' ``Nay,'' the soldier's pride Touched to the quick, he said: ``I'm killed, Sire!'' And his chief beside Smiling the boy fell dead.
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