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Jeanne Asleep

She sleeps! Her eyes will soon expand again;
My finger which she holds fills all her hand.
I read, while that naught wakes her I take care.
The pious journals! all insult me there.
One treats as madmen all who read my lines;
One to the hangman all my works assigns;
Another while a tear bedews his lids,
Kindly, the passers-by to stone me bids.
My writings are all vile and poisoning,
Where all black snakes of ill their spirals wring;
One credits hell, and me its priest declares,
Or Antichrist, or Satan; and one fears
At eve to meet me on the forest's brink.
One hands me hemlock; cries another, "Drink!"
I sacked the Louvre, the hostages I killed,
And fancied mobs with lust of plunder filled;
Paris in flames with red my brow should dye;
I'm cutthroat, butcher, thug, incendiary,
Miser, and should have been less fierce and base
Had but the emperor given me a place;
I'm general poisoner and murderer.
Thus all these voices I around me hear
Heap insult on me without stint or stay.
The child sleeps on as if its dream would say
"O father! yet be quiet, yet benign --"
I feel her hand is gently pressing mine.

From L'Art D'etre Grandpere