All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/Three Scenes in One Woman's Life
THREE SCENES IN ONE WOMAN'S LIFE.
THE gay sun looked on a goodly show
As the hunt swept by royal Fontainebleau;
The song was hushed which the wild bird sang,
While the sylvan sounds through the alleys rang.
There were statesmen grave, there were ladies fair,
There were knightly names such as heroes wear,
While the hand which held loyal France in check
Rested prone and gloved on a horse's neck.
But the sunshine glanced from the regal crest
To a curl wind-blown on a woman's breast,
Where the fair "Montijo" a picture stood—
Far the fairest thing in the royal wood;
And it touched her cap with its plume of snow,
Lit the golden wealth of the tress below,
Showed the hunting-suit all of courtly green,
With the royal "N" on the buttons' sheen;
Then it softly kissed, with a tender grace,
The lifted glance of her lovely face.
O maiden fair, both the bird and sun
Know a woman s heart and an empire won.
* * * *
Where the mould'ring dust of the Pharaohs slept,
And the desert sand over temples crept,
Came a barge ablaze with the fleur-de-lis
To the bridal-rite of the wedded sea.
Once again the sun with his tropic stare,
Looking fondly down on her face so fair,
Underneath the folds of the banners bright,
Saw a royal form in its robe of white—
Saw the wealth and pomp of an empire shed
On the jewelled locks of Eugénie's head—
Saw the queenly wave of the snowy hand
As the courtiers bent to the burning sand.
* * * *
A stripling pale and sad and worn,
From love and hope and kingdom torn,
On English soil waits wearily
The next strange page of history,
Which may be turned with bayonet,
Whose pictures are with red blood wet,
Thinking, poor boy! of struggling France;
When, lo! an idle lifted glance
Sees strangers, all in convent guise,
Pass doubtingly before his eyes.
No sunshine now. Through shadow pale,
A fugitive in hood and veil
Asks for the prince. There is a cry,
A sudden lifting of the eye,
Then folded arms and smothered speech
One lesson, old as Calv'ry, teach:
Though empires die and kingdoms fall,
Sweet mother-love outlives them all.
No crown lies on her folded hair,
But silver threads are shining there,
While merry birds sing soft and low
The song they sang in Fontainebleau.