A memory Time never could efface—
A memory of Grief—
Like a great silence brooded o'er the place;
And men breathed hard, as seeking for relief
From an emotion strong,
That would not cry, though held in check too long.
One felt that joy drew near—
A joy intense that seemed itself to fear—
Brightening in eyes that had been dull,
As all with feeling gazed
Upon the Strasburg figure, raised
Above us—mourning, beautiful!
Then one stood at the statue's base and spoke—
Men needed not to ask what word;
Each in his breast the message heard,
Writ for him by Despair,
That evermore in moving phrase
Breathes from the Invalides and Père Lachaise—
Vainly it seemed, alas!
But now, France looking on the image there,
Hope gave her back the lost Alsace.
A deeper hush fell on the crowd:
A sound—the lightest—seemed too loud
(Would, friend, you had been there!)
As to that form the speaker rose,
Took from her, fold on fold,
The mournful crape, grey-worn and old,
Her, proudly, to disclose,
And with the touch of tender care
That fond emotion speaks,
'Mid tears that none could quite command,
Placed the Tricolour in her hand,
And kissed her on both cheeks!