19th Century

Death of Napoleon | Victor Hugo

The following lines were written by the celebrated French poet Victor Hugo on the death of Napoleon. Hugo’s words were then translated by G.W.M. Reynolds (under the pseudonym of “Parisianus”) and published in The Monthly Magazine.[1] Transcribed by Stephen Basdeo in 2021.

Bowing in front of Napoleon the Great: An illustration from one of G.W.M. Reynolds’s novels.

Thus he, who, with his martial host,

Victorious rov’d from coast to coast—

Before whose armies in the field

Monarchs would fly, and cities yield—

And in whose power was Europe’s doom—

His ashes are denied a tomb!

The hand of death he could not brave—

In France he has not found a grave,

Although the palace of the Czar

Became his booty in the war!—

England, with thee, must e’er remain

The sad remembrance and the stain!

Banished to save thy dastard fears,

Th’imperial exile pass’d in tears

A series of afflicted years:—

And now the country he ador’d,

For which he drew the conquering sword—

That country’s senate dares deny

A small—a sorry spot of ground,

That ‘neath the Column may be found,

To form the hero’s cemet’ry!

[1] Victor Hugo (Trans. G.W.M. Reynolds), ‘Napoleon’, The Monthly Magazine, March 1838, 286.