A Sketch

by Eliza Acton

Eliza Acton

Where is he now?-that mightiest one, whose name
Was still the spell-word of the fray,-the sound
Which led his legions on untir'd, to win
Their thousand fights ;-the man whose daring deeds
Were heralded by Fame, till Fame herself
Exhausted sank beneath th' o'er whelming task.
And is his high career of glory done?-
Can he be nothing, to whom monarchs bow'd
Their crown-encircled brows, and nations knelt
In most subservient homage, till he stood
E'en like a god above the conquer'd world?
Where is he now?-Far o'er the rolling waves,
On a most rude, and sea-surrounded rock,
Rises a simple tomb, whose whiteness gleams
Through the low-bending branches of the tree,
Which droops, in seeming mournfulness, above
The marble monument it shadows o'er.
'Tis there an Emp'ror sleeps! and on that isle
Which his foes made his dwelling-place, he pin'd
Like a cag'd eagle, till he perish'd there,
Tortur'd by petty tyranny, and bow'd
By low, mean insults. Was it not enough
To wrest away the kingdoms he had won,
His diadem,-his sword,-his child,-and she,
Th' imperial mother of his princely boy ?-
To bind him down on that so desolate spot
A prison'd exile from the land he lov'd,
His own bright, fertile France? A fallen foe
Cast on the mercy of his vanquishers
Had met from gen'rous minds a nobler doom.
He was our enemy !-and he had been
The scourge of human-kind-and if for this
His blood had been required, they had done well
To shed it quickly; not to drain his life
By slow sure means, far worse than death itself.
'Tis a stern lesson which his fate holds forth
To after-votaries at ambition's shrine.
Pois'd on the proudest pinnacle of pow'r,
He fell, as doth the breath-stirr'd avalanche,
With fearful, and appalling suddenness,
Yet spreading less of desolation round
Than doth the mountain-terror :-he had done
The work of ruin, ere his star was bow'd
Before the vengeful Genius of the earth,
Whom he had dar'd too far.

Last updated January 14, 2019