The Tomb of Josephine

Lydia Huntley Sigourney

A Josephine, Eugene et Hortense 1825

Empress of Earth's most polish'd clime!
Whose path of splendid care
Did touch the zenith-point of hope,
The nadir of despair,
Here doth thy wrong'd, confiding heart
Resign its tortur'd thrill,
And slumber like the peasant s dust,
All unconcern'd and still?

Did Love yon arch of marble rear
To mark the hallow d ground
And bid those doric columns spring
With clustering roses crown'd
Say, did it come with gifts of peace
To deck thy couch of gloom?
And like relenting Athens bless
Its guiltless martyr's tomb?

No! no! the stern and callous breast
Sear'd by Ambition s flame,
No kindlings of remorse confest
At thy remember d name:
Alike the Corsican abjur'd
With harsh and ingrate tone,
The beauty and the love that pav'd
His pathway to a throne.

He turn d in apathy to gaze
Upon his Austrian bride,
Nor heard dark fate's prophetic sigh
That warn d the fall of pride;
Saw not the vision d battle shock
That cleft his Babel fame,
Nor mark'd on far Helena's rock
A sepulchre of shame.

France! France! by thy indignant zeal
Were fitting honors paid,
And did thy weeping fondness sooth
The unrequited shade?
Bad st thou yon breathing statue strive
Her faultless form to show
But rushing on in reckless mirth,
That empire answered, No.

Then lo! a still small voice arose
Amid that silence drear,
Such voice as from the cradle bed
Doth charm the mother s ear,
And then, methought, two clasping hands
Were from that marble thrust,
And strange their living freshness gleam'd
Amid that sculptur d dust.

Empress! the filial blossoms nurs'd
Within thy bosom's fold,
Surviv'd the wreath that traitor Love
To heartless glory sold,
Those hands thy monument have rear'd
Where pausing pilgrims come;
That voice thy mournful requiem pour'd
Though all the world was dumb.

Napoleon's wife Josephine was buried in the church at Reuil where she had lived at the famous Chateau de Malmaison.

The quote at the beginning is the inscription on the tomb of the Empress Josephine, which was erected by her children Eugene and Hortense.