The French Marshal

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McMahon up the street of Paris came,
     In triumph from Magenta. Every one
Had heard and praised the fearless marshal’s name,
     And gloried in the deeds that he had done.
Crowds packed the walks, and at each seperate glass
A face was set to see the hero pass.

Grand music lifted in the morning air
     Its eloquent voice. Loud-mouthed bells were rung,
Guns boomed till echoes welcomed everywhere;
     On buildings and in streets proud flags were hung,
Half like the flags of brain-silk wrought with gold,
That hang on Shakespeare’s pages, fold on fold.

But while the marshal up the street made way,
     There came a little girl clothed all in white,
Bringing in happy hands a large bouquet;
     Her flower-sweet face seemed fragrant with delight.
Well pleased, the soldier, dark and fierce at need,
Raised up the child before him on his steed.

The pearly necklace of her loving arms
     She bound on him, and laid her Spring-like head
Against the Autumn of his cheek, with charms
     Of smile and mien; while to his shoulder fled
Her gold loose hair with flowers like jewels set,
And made thereon a wonderous epaulet.

He seemed more like an angel than a man,
     As, father-like, he paid back each caress;
Better than all his deeds in war’s red van,
     Appeared this simple act of tenderness.
The people cried “Huzza!” and did not pause
Until the town seemed shaken with applause.

So, from this hour, the general became
     The boast of the enthusiastic crowd;
Each gave some flower of praise to deck his fame;
     They knew him brave—though often cold and proud;
But looked not for the kindness undefiled
That he had beamed upon the loving child.

O cynic, deem no more the world all base,
     And scoff no more with either tongue or pen;
You do not see the face behind the face.
     If God exists, there must be noble men;
And many, who to us seem hard and cold,
Have sunshine in their hearts as pure as gold.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.