Amy Lowell



How the slates of the roof sparkle in the sun, over there, over there,
beyond the high wall!  How quietly the Seine runs in loops and windings,
over there, over there, sliding through the green countryside!  Like
ships of the line, stately with canvas, the tall clouds pass along the
sky, over the glittering roof, over the trees, over the looped and
curving river. A breeze quivers through the linden-trees.  Roses bloom
at Malmaison. Roses!  Roses!  But the road is dusty.  Already the
Citoyenne Beauharnais wearies of her walk.  Her skin is chalked and
powdered with dust, she smells dust, and behind the wall are roses!
Roses with smooth open petals, poised above rippling leaves...  Roses
... They have told her so.  The Citoyenne Beauharnais shrugs her
shoulders and makes a little face.  She must mend her pace if she would
be back in time for dinner.  Roses indeed!  The guillotine more likely.

The tiered clouds float over Malmaison, and the slate roof sparkles in
the sun.



Over the slate roof tall clouds, like ships of the line, pass along the
sky. The glass-houses glitter splotchily, for many of their lights are
broken. Roses bloom, fiery cinders quenching under damp weeds.  Wreckage
and misery, and a trailing of petty deeds smearing over old

The musty rooms are empty and their shutters are closed, only in the
gallery there is a stuffed black swan, covered with dust.  When you
touch it, the feathers come off and float softly to the ground.  Through
a chink in the shutters, one can see the stately clouds crossing the sky
toward the Roman arches of the Marly Aqueduct.

Malmaison is the chateau bought in 1799 by Josephine, wife of the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was angry that Josephine had spent so much on a house, but she turned it into a splendid palace. It was especially famed for its exquisite gardens. After his defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon lived here before going into exile on St Helena.

So famous was Malmaison that the town of Reuil, where the Chateau lies, changed its name to Reuil-Malmaison in 1928.