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

July 16

The Burial of Béranger

By Alfred Watts

  • A French lyric poet. His songs have enjoyed great popularity. He died on July 16, 1857.
  • The poet Béranger is dead. The expenses of his funeral will be charged to the Imperial civil list.—Despatch of July 17, 1857.

  • Non mes amis, au spectacle des ombres
  • Je ne veux point une loge d’honneur.
  • —Béranger

  • BURY Béranger! Well for you

    Could you bury the spirit of Béranger too!

    Bury the bard if you will, and rejoice;

    But you bury the body, and not the voice.

    Bury the prophet and garnish his tomb;

    The prophecy still remains for doom,

    And many a prophecy since proved true

    Has that prophet spoken for such as you.

    Bury the body of Béranger—

    Bury the printer’s boy you may;

    But the spirit no death can ever destroy

    That made a bard of that printer’s boy.

    A clerk at twelve hundred francs per ann.

    Were a very easily buried man;

    But the spirit that gave up that little all

    For freedom, is free of the funeral.

    You may bury the prisoner, it may be,

    The man of La Force and Ste. Pelagie;

    But the spirit, mon Empereur, that gave

    That prisoner empire knows no grave.

    “Au spectacle des ombres une loge d’honneur”

    Is easily given, mon Empereur;

    But a something there is which even the will

    Of an emperor cannot inter or kill—

    By no space restrained, to no age confined,

    The fruit of a simple great man’s mind,

    Which to all eternity lives and feeds

    The births of which here it has laid the seeds.

    Could you bury these, you might sit secure

    On the throne of the Bourbons, mon Empereur.