Béranger's "My Last Song Perhaps"

A poem by Eugene Field

[JANUARY, 1814]


When, to despoil my native France,
With flaming torch and cruel sword
And boisterous drums her foeman comes,
I curse him and his vandal horde!
Yet, what avail accrues to her,
If we assume the garb of woe?
Let's merry be,--in laughter we
May rescue somewhat from the foe!

Ah, many a brave man trembles now.
I (coward!) show no sign of fear;
When Bacchus sends his blessing, friends,
I drown my panic in his cheer.
Come, gather round my humble board,
And let the sparkling wassail flow,--
Chuckling to think, the while you drink,
"This much we rescue from the foe!"

My creditors beset me so
And so environed my abode,
That I agreed, despite my need,
To settle up the debts I owed;
When suddenly there came the news
Of this invasion, as you know;
I'll pay no score; pray, lend me more,--
I--I will keep it from the foe!

Now here's my mistress,--pretty dear!--
Feigns terror at this martial noise,
And yet, methinks, the artful minx
Would like to meet those soldier boys!
I tell her that they're coarse and rude,
Yet feel she don't believe 'em so,--
Well, never mind; so she be kind,
That much I rescue from the foe!

If, brothers, hope shall have in store
For us and ours no friendly glance,
Let's rather die than raise a cry
Of welcome to the foes of France!
But, like the swan that dying sings,
Let us, O Frenchmen, singing go,--
Then shall our cheer, when death is near,
Be so much rescued from the foe!

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