Poetry Corner: Marie Antoinette

On August 13th 1792 the Queen of France Marie Antoinette was imprisoned by French Revolutionaries. She would die by guillotine on 16th October 1793. The guillotine which was used to behead the French Aristocracy during the French Revolution became known with apparent affection as Madame La Guillotine.

Marie Antoinette

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Marie Antoinette

They told to Marie Antoinette:
“The beggers at your gate
Have eyes too sad for tears to wet,
And for your pity wait.”
But Marie only laughed and said:
“My heart they will not ache:
If people starve for want of bread
Let them eat cake.”

The Court re-echoed her bon mot;
It rang around the land,
Till masses wakened from their woe
With scyth and pick in hand.
It took a careless, callous phrase
To rouse the folk forlorn:
A million roared the Marseillaise:
Freedom was born.

And so to Marie Antoinette
Let’s pay a tribute due;
Humanity owes her a debt,
(Ironical, it’s true).
She sparked world revolution red,
And as with glee they bore
Upon a pike her lovely head
–Her curls dripped gore.

Written by Robert William Service

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