George Gordon Byron

Here you will find the Long Poem Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte of poet George Gordon Byron

Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte

'Tis done -- but yesterday a King! 
And arm'd with Kings to strive -- 
And now thou art a nameless thing: 
So abject -- yet alive! 
Is this the man of thousand thrones, 
Who strew'd our earth with hostile bones, 
And can he thus survive? 
Since he, miscall'd the Morning Star, 
Nor man nor fiend hath fallen so far. 

Ill-minded man! why scourge thy kind 
Who bow'd so low the knee? 
By gazing on thyself grown blind, 
Thou taught'st the rest to see. 
With might unquestion'd, -- power to save, -- 
Thine only gift hath been the grave, 
To those that worshipp'd thee; 
Nor till thy fall could mortals guess 
Ambition's less than littleness! 

Thanks for that lesson -- It will teach 
To after-warriors more, 
Than high Philosophy can preach, 
And vainly preach'd before. 
That spell upon the minds of men 
Breaks never to unite again, 
That led them to adore 
Those Pagod things of sabre sway 
With fronts of brass, and feet of clay. 

The triumph and the vanity, 
The rapture of the strife -- 
The earthquake voice of Victory, 
To thee the breath of life; 
The sword, the sceptre, and that sway 
Which man seem'd made but to obey, 
Wherewith renown was rife -- 
All quell'd! -- Dark Spirit! what must be 
The madness of thy memory! 

The Desolator desolate! 
The Victor overthrown! 
The Arbiter of others' fate 
A Suppliant for his own! 
Is it some yet imperial hope 
That with such change can calmly cope? 
Or dread of death alone? 
To die a prince -- or live a slave -- 
Thy choice is most ignobly brave! 

He who of old would rend the oak, 
Dream'd not of the rebound: 
Chain'd by the trunk he vainly broke -- 
Alone -- how look'd he round? 
Thou, in the sternness of thy strength, 
An equal deed hast done at length, 
And darker fate hast found: 
He fell, the forest prowler's prey; 
But thou must eat thy heart away! 

The Roman, when his burning heart 
Was slaked with blood of Rome, 
Threw down the dagger -- dared depart, 
In savage grandeur, home -- 
He dared depart in utter scorn 
Of men that such a yoke had borne, 
Yet left him such a doom! 
His only glory was that hour 
Of self-upheld abandon'd power. 

The Spaniard, when the lust of sway 
Had lost its quickening spell, 
Cast crowns for rosaries away, 
An empire for a cell; 
A strict accountant of his beads, 
A subtle disputant on creeds, 
His dotage trifled well: 
Yet better had he neither known 
A bigot's shrine, nor despot's throne. 

But thou -- from thy reluctant hand 
The thunderbolt is wrung -- 
Too late thou leav'st the high command 
To which thy weakness clung; 
All Evil Spirit as thou art, 
It is enough to grieve the heart 
To see thine own unstrung; 
To think that God's fair world hath been 
The footstool of a thing so mean; 
And Earth hath spilt her blood for him, 
Who thus can hoard his own! 
And Monarchs bow'd the trembling limb, 
And thank'd him for a throne! 
Fair Freedom! we may hold thee dear, 
When thus thy mightiest foes their fear 
In humblest guise have shown. 
Oh! ne'er may tyrant leave behind 
A brighter name to lure mankind! 

Thine evil deeds are writ in gore, 
Nor written thus in vain -- 
Thy triumphs tell of fame no more, 
Or deepen every stain: 
If thou hadst died as honour dies, 
Some new Napoleon might arise, 
To shame the world again -- 
But who would soar the solar height, 
To set in such a starless night? 

Weigh'd in the balance, hero dust 
Is vile as vulgar clay; 
Thy scales, Mortality! are just 
To all that pass away: 
But yet methought the living great 
Some higher sparks should animate, 
To dazzle and dismay: 
Nor deem'd Contempt could thus make mirth 
Of these, the Conquerors of the earth. 

And she, proud Austria's mournful flower, 
Thy still imperial bride; 
How bears her breast the torturing hour? 
Still clings she to thy side? 
Must she too bend, must she too share 
Thy late repentance, long despair, 
Thou throneless Homicide? 
If still she loves thee, hoard that gem, -- 
'Tis worth thy vanish'd diadem! 

Then haste thee to thy sullen Isle, 
And gaze upon the sea; 
That element may meet thy smile -- 
It ne'er was ruled by thee! 
Or trace with thine all idle hand 
In loitering mood upon the sand 
That Earth is now as free! 
That Corinth's pedagogue hath now 
Transferr'd his by-word to thy brow. 

Thou Timour! in his captive's cage 
What thought will there be thine, 
While brooding in thy prison'd rage? 
But one -- "The word was mine!" 
Unless, like he of Babylon, 
All sense is with thy sceptre gone,