Jean Reboul

Forever misery and sure decay
Succeed a haughty pride and mighty sway.
Aigue-Morte, whose twenty towers still face the sea,
Consumptive city, sinking wretchedly,
Dies like an owl in hollow of her nest,
Like shrivelled knight still in full armor drest,
As in the almshouse yard the beggar dies
With naught to bless him but the summer skies.
Bordered with huts of reeds is old Aigue-Morte,
Some noble ships still anchor in its port.
Harassed by want the moody fisher bends,
With wood as old some shuttered wherry mends.
And yet this place of gasping want and pain
Can count its golden links in time's long chain.
These walls still standing as of old they stood,
Whose dull-hued verdure paints the solitude,
Once held the Orient's most precious store,
And turbaned Moslems, wave-like, pressed the shore.
In holy anger, twice a pilgrim king
Hence set his thousand galleys on the wing,
When full of zeal to work his high design
And sweep the Crescent out of Palestine.
Here haughty barons clad in coats of mail
(Venice had linked and burnished every scale)
Waved from their glittering helmets, floating wide
The ostrich plume or pheasant-crest of pride.
O'er all the oriflamme here floated free,
Brought from the gloomy sliades of St. Denis,
When France commanded, danger pressing nigh,
That all her sons should conquer or should die.
Two peoples figured in their kings here met,
And with a kiss the seal of peace was set.
Gold, purple, azure, for the jousts were spread,
Vying in splendor with the heavens o'erhead;
Afar was borne the martial trumpet's sound,
The charger's hoofs impatient smote the ground,
From splendid balconies there fluttered now
Fair ladies' gloves to greet the victor's brow.
Lo! all now sleeps, — vanished the splendid train,
These silent shores alone to us remain.
In the dry marsh is heard the plaintive bird
Whose heavy flight the tamarisk has stirred;
The wave that rocks with solemn beat and slow
Like an eternal pendule to and fro.