Canto 21: Bonaparte

On dit que dieu est toujours pours les gros battallions!

Napoleon Bounaparte


Warrior Born

See, at her voice a new creation springs,
Exulting Fancy claps her eagle wings;
Swift on the clouds, by sportive zephyrs drawn.
JD Worgan

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

As other young men of his age
Upheld the Revolution,
Aristocratics assuage
Their 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

The mouldy structure of injustice crumbles down,
Crushing underneath its weight envy, enmity & hate,
The soulless canons of the cross & crown
Hristo Smirnenski

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

One hundred thousand souls conjoin,
Gather’d neath Valmy’s steeple,
The Cock’relle cause the only coin,
This Army of the People
Draws steely barb from belted loin,
Storms up a hard, steep hill;
The spoils of victory soon theirs to wield,
The Berlin 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
Gallants dying for luxury, the guillotine is set…

Paris
1793


March of Napoleon

Autumn night so cooly comes.
Lights up with stars
Above the broken bones of men
George Trakl

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

The Revolutionary call
Transforms to one of conquest,
Hapsburg Flanders & Holland fall
With all of the Rhine Bank West,
Now striking thro’ Cisalpine Gaul
French face vital contest
At the battle of Tagliamento –
Where genius, unbridled, runs the show.

As Austria’s retreats increase
Vienna shrinks in fear,
To sue for peace, the muskets cease,
His Aide-de-Camps appear,
To herald their great champion, by victory soar’d clear.

Leoben
1797


Napoleonica

The march gone by was glorious, this shall be
More glorious still. To one & all of ye
I speak.- Remember well what is done
JD Horrocks

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
Bulge yet with Muslim gold,
While decadence infests their noble poise of old.

Upon his complex to the east
Napoleon here pauses,
Finds auberges spread like a feast,
Exotical roci courses,
As greed upon Malta releas’d
All his hungry forces,
The Maltese take Libertie as a wife,
A conquer’d  land without the loss of life.

As married love may turn to woe,
Cursing the romantic,
Crude taxes grow, flies death-black crow,
Futures feeling frantic,
To good Lord Nelson pleas are sent, out in the Atlantic.

Malta
1798


Rock of Empire

Malta we found there silent, unafraid,
Ready & steady. Fitted to be made
The bride of destiny, the hope, the light
G.R.Hogan

While Boney battl’d at Aboukir Bay
The English have enclosed Calypso’s Isles,
,Fierce ring preventing vessels, every day,
Provisioning the Gallic rank & files;
Valetta’s walls
Immune to cannon shot,
But not those hungry holes which growling stomachs 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 – soon Peter’s isle shall sway the fate of kings.

Malta
1798


Eastern Complex

Ye surging sees, & ye Inconstant wynds
Who stayes the course of my Expecting hope
Go Calme your selfs, be constant by your kynds
King James I&VI

From Perpignan to Rheims & Brittany
Napoleon known as new messiah,
Cult acolytic of celebrity
Forever man’s endeavours to inspire;
Golden Egypt’s
Great Pyramids beckon,
With fescoe pharoe crypts beneath a seering sun.

The Tricolours at first prosper,
The coast is shrewdly taken,
When ancyent Alexandria,
To French soldat foresaken,
But cometh now the frank terror
Of Admiral Nelson;
Fleet crippled at the Battle of the Nile,
Into their prison boats the bluecoats file.

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

France
1799


Imperial Intentions

No sooner had I got back home
Than they told me straight away
How my best friend had been killed
Konstantin Vanshenkin

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,
Primal Bonapartist whose eagles climb releas’d.

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

A 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

The medal is awarded
when nothing more happens,
when the artillery falls silent
Ingeborg Bachmann

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

Cleaving a path between the bouys,
Rare heart on a pinn’d sleeve worn,
The lads the Adm’ralty employs,
Oaks from a press-gang’d acorn,
Are draping Danes in death & noise,
From wrack’d ships sailors shorn,
Nelson’s most magnanimous ministry
Rescues so many from a crimson sea.

From port-to-port the stories flow,
Legends made of prowess!
As Consuls know their ancyent foe
Defies naval duress,
Says Bonaparte, “We must build fleets to beat the sea’s mistress.”

France
1801


Nervous Peace

It had come at last! his own stupendous hour
Long waited, dreaded, almost hoped-for too,
When all else seem’d the foolery of power
Max Plowman

When only rust could halt hegemony,
Exists a stalemate of the warring lords –
The British crown commands the rolling sea,
Impervious to sharpen’d Guardsmen 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,
Hosting next the bandwagon,
His consulate arrives as three,
But truly it was one –
Napoleon snakes as Saharan 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 –
But to succeed his succession still barren is his wife.

France
1802

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