Napoleon at Waterloo

by poetrydiary

One day the English will feel this too:
our heart beats blurring into drums,
that are no more than wave falls, like on Elba;
blue and breaking on the reddened shore.

Why lift our hands or eyes to smoking hills?
They all know what they do and why.
Long past feeling cannonballs and heads
rolling and falling; grateful only to be un-dead

a moment longer. And to hope. It was on the road
to Laffray this fight was lost: hope and romance against guns,
and love against logic. So now they fight
from deeper dreams, timeless and beyond defeat

in this world or the next. Nothing we can do
can kill that hope; the tactics of Austerlitz
and Jena known, the day undone. We know our role,
they know their place; the grass, and blood.

Clouds like lava, flowing from the West;
we must play our part, into that volcano sun.
This is our final moment, we cannot betray
future believers and our myth ā€“ all that remains:
to make an end, let it begin ā€“ forward our loyal Guard.


I’ve been feeling in a historical romantic mood this weekend.

Historical notes: Laffray was the village where Napoleon opened his coat to the King’s troops when returning from Elba and invited them to shoot him, and they changed sides. Jena and Austerlitz two of his greatest victories. The final (hopeless) attack of the never-defeated Old Guard at Waterloo is one of the great romantic moments of history (although not necessarily for those there). Napoleon’s strange lethargy on the day of the battle has often been commented on.

Posted on Poets United.