Ancien Régime        

‘What would you be

Were it not for me?’

Napoleon shouted

At the Cardinal Archbishop

Prince de Rohan,

Who had dared refuse

A Te Deum to celebrate

The birth of the King of Rome,

Because Marie Louise

Was not the Emperor’s wife

That post

Belonging to the Empress Josephine.

‘All that you are

You owe to me,’

The Emperor shouted,

Enjoying the scene.

‘I who win

Every war -

I made you a bishop,

I made you a cardinal -

I who crown and uncrown kings.

All that you are

You owe to me.’

‘What would I be,’

The Prelate replied,

‘Were I not a bishop,

A Cardinal, Sire?

I still would be

A priest who is also

Prince de Rohan.’

The Emperor grew quiet,

Then talked of other things.


August 26th, 1974