Reference to Context
These lines have been extracted from the poem Incident of the French Camp written by Robert Browning. The poem describes an act of chivalry, gallantry, patriotism and sacrifice on the part of a young French Soldier. The French Army had attacked the German city of Ratisbon. After they had achieved triumph, the news of the victory was conveyed to the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte by that young soldier who was brimming with pride and glory although he was on the verge of death. Thereafter, the wounded soldier breathed his last.
YOU KNOW, WE FRENCH STORMED RATISBON:
A MILE OR SO AWAY,
ON A LITTLE MOUND, NAPOLEON
STOOD ON OUR STORMING DAY;
WITH NECK OUT-THRUST, YOU FANCY HOW,
LEGS WIDE, ARMS LOCKED BEHIND,
AS IF TO BALANCE THE PRONE BROW
OPPRESSIVE WITH ITS MIND.
In the lines given for explanation, the poet is describing the scene of the French attack on the German city of Ratisbon. Marshal Lannes led the French aggression in the year 1783. On that occasion, the French emperor Napoleon stood on a hillock just a mile away from the scene of the onslaught. He appeared to be in a pensive mood. He had his neck sticking out and his legs were wide apart. He had his arms joined behind his bark and a cloud on his brow was quite visible. It seemed that something very important was weighing upon his mind and he was perhaps working out his future strategy and line of action.
JUST AS PERHAPS HE MUSED, MY PLANS
THAT SOAR, TO EARTH MAY FALL,
LET ONCE MY ARMY.LEADER LANNES
WAVER AT YONDER WALL,’-
OUT ’TWIST THE BATTERY SMOKES THERE FLEW
A RIDER, BOUND ON BOUND
FULL-GALLOPING; NOR BRIDLE DREW
UNTIL HE REACHED THE MOUND.
These lines bring to light the contemplative nature of Napoleon, and the courage and enthusiasm of the young soldier who was heading towards him to convey the good news of victory. Napoleon was lost in his thoughts pondering over the...