A squad of regular infantry,
In the Commune's closing days,
Had captured a crowd of rebels
By the wall of Pere-la-Chaise.
There were desperate men, wild women,
And dark-eyed Amazon girls,
And one little boy, with a peach-down cheek
And yellow clustering curls.
The captain seized the little waif,
And said, "What dost thou here?"
"Sapristi, Citizen captain!
I'm a Communist, my dear!"
"Very well! Then you die with the others!"
- "Very well! That's my affair;
But first let me take to my mother,
Who lives by the wine-shop there,
"My father's watch. You see it;
A gay old thing, is it not?
It would please the old lady to have it;
Then I'll come back here, and be shot."
"That is the last we shall see of him,"
The grizzled captain grinned,
As the little man skimmed down the hill
Like a swallow down the wind.
For the joy of killing had lost its zest
In the glut of those awful days,
And Death writhed, gorged like a greedy snake,
From the Arch to Pere-la-Chaise.
But before the last platoon had fired
The child's shrill voice was heard;
"Houp-la! the old girl made such a row
I feared I should break my word."
Against the bullet-pitted wall
He took his place with the rest,
A button was lost from his ragged blouse,
Which showed his soft white breast.
"Now blaze away, my children!
With your little one-two-three!"
The Chassepots tore the stout young heart,
And saved Society.