In Memoriam: Louise Michel

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January 9, mcmv

By Richard Ellis Roberts

Red Virgin! whose impassioned war
Was waged against the high and cruel,
Ever before thee, like a star,
Shone the imperishable jewel
Of Peace and Love and Brotherhood;
And if, while gazing at the sky,
At times you stumbled into blood
And soil'd the skirts of Liberty:
Shall he condemn, who, safe from smutch,
At politics discreetly gambles,
You who loved Light and Life so much,
You sought them through the reeking shambles?
Wild prophetess of Freedom's cause!
Who, in your mad revolt from awe,
Broke through divine and human laws
To herald in the Larger Law,
You err'd: by older, slower ways
The kingdom is more surely built;
And freedom yet shall have due praise,
Although no Thiers' blood be spilt.
But though the reckless deeds you wrought,
Lost in a mist of blood, Louise,
Shall be forgot, your master-thought
Shall triumph o'er the centuries.

  • Richard Ellis Roberts, "In Memoriam: Louise Michel," Poems (London: Brimley Johnson & Ince, Ltd., 1906): 65-66.