James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

May 5

Death of Napoleon

By Isaac McLellan (1806–1899)

  • Napoleon Bonaparte died at St. Helena, May 5, 1821.

  • WILD was the night, yet a wilder night

    Hung round the soldier’s pillow;

    In his bosom there waged a fiercer fight

    Than the fight on the wrathful billow.

    A few fond mourners were kneeling by,

    The few that his stern heart cherished;

    They knew by his glazed and unearthly eye

    That life had nearly perished.

    They knew by his awful and kingly look,

    By the order hastily spoken,

    That he dreamed of days when the nations shook,

    And the nations’ hosts were broken.

    He dreamed that the Frenchman’s sword still slew,

    And triumphed the Frenchman’s “Eagle;”

    And the struggling Austrian fled anew,

    Like the hare before the beagle.

    The bearded Russian he scourged again,

    The Prussian’s camp was routed,

    And again on the hills of haughty Spain

    His mighty armies shouted.

    Over Egypt’s sands, over Alpine snows,

    At the Pyramids, at the mountain,

    Where the wave of the lordly Danube flows,

    And by the Italian fountain;

    On the snowy cliffs, where mountain streams

    Dash by the Switzer’s dwelling,

    He led again, in his dying dreams,

    His hosts, the broad earth quelling.

    Again Marengo’s field was won,

    And Jena’s bloody battle;

    Again the world was overrun,

    Made pale at his cannon’s rattle.

    He died at the close of that darksome day,

    A day that shall live in story;

    In the rocky land they placed his clay,

    “And left him alone with his glory.”