Marshal Ney’s Farewell. By A. H. Laidlaw

    Adieu to France! Land of the Brave, farewell!
    Sleep sweetly there, thy sons will watch by thee,
    High as thy hills their burning blood will swell,
    To leave thee as they find thee, fair and free.
    The nations gaze and tremble at thy spell,
    A vision of eternal Liberty,
    Emerging from a swift and bloody birth,
    The terror, wonder, glory of the earth.

    Yet, France, farewell! One son may find his grave
    Beneath thy soil, and leave thee marching still,
    Napoleon with his millions of the brave,
    Along the paths of glory, at thy will.
    Soldiers, farewell! And when your banners wave
    Above my bones beside some nameless hill,
    Stop not the thunder of your glorious tread,
    To mark me sleeping with th’ inglorious dead.

    And farewell, Foes! Brave hearts and grand of soul;
    We fought in fierceness, now in peace we part.
    My luckless heart hath ever been the goal
    Sought by your sabres, but in vain, O Heart!
    Welcome to death amid the drum’s far roll,
    Great souls, where I no more will dare your dart.
    ‘Tis best to die where war’s bluff banners wave,
    Swathed in your guerdon, “Bravest of the brave.”

    Farewell, the storm-voiced Steed! the hero Horse
    That snuffs the battle’s sulphury breath afar;
    The proudest form, the best compacted force,
    That hurls the earthquake on the field of war.
    No more I’ll ride, on his terrific course,
    That meteor maddened through the lines ajar,
    While the foe, blanching at the onset, reels
    Before his breath and thunder of his heels.

    Farewell, volcanic din, Olympian brattle,
    The bursting bomb, the thousand-throated cheer
    Tartarean roar, the volleyed rifle rattle,
    The rocket’s lightning line of fire and fear.
    I sought my fate ‘mid foes in brilliant battle,
    Gorging with souls the hungry atmosphere;
    I find my fate from one cold coward’s command,
    A dozen bullets, and a friendly hand.

    Thus I, once Michael Ney, Marshal of France,
    And soon a heap of dust, dishonored, sink; – 
    I, who have vanned the Empire’s fierce advance
    In triple continents of fame to drink,
    And bore its backward but still levelled lance
    From Borodino to the icy brink
    Of Beresina; thence defiance hurled
    To the linked thunders of th’ embattled world.

    No bandage bring. Stark-eyed the hero dies.
    Do you not know that thus for twenty years
    I’ve faced both ball and bullet! – for no prize
    But weal of France, my country? In man’s ears,
    Yea and before God’s all-beholding eyes,
    I swear I never wronged her. But Death nears.
    Marshal no more, behold a man expire!
    So now, make ready! Aim! Dear comrades, fire!