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Napoleon's Farewell to Paris

[ Roud 1626 ; Ballad Index GC089 ; Bodleian Roud 1626 ; trad.]

Crows sang Napoleon's Farewell to Paris in a live radio recording from the early 1980s. It was included in 2016 on their WildGoose anthology Time to Rise.

Steve Turner sang Napoleon's Farewell to Paris in 1984 on his Fellside album Eclogue and in 2012, with nearly identical verses, on his Tradition Bearers album Rim of the Wheel. He commented in the latter album's notes:

I've been singing this song for so long that I can't remember where I got the tune from. I got the words from a broadside that I found in Manchester Central library in the early 70s and the accompaniment was [Oliver Knight]'s idea after 35 years of singing it a cappella. I assume the broadside has Irish origins as Napoleon is put very much on a pedestal here and steeped in admiration for his exploits. It was first collected in Newfoundland in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock.

Bob Webb sang Napoleon's Farewell to Paris on his 2000 album Bank Trollers.

Lyrics

Steve Turner sings Napoleon's Farewell to Paris

Farewell you splendid citadel metropolis called Paris
Where Phoebus every morning shoots forth her gilded beams
Where Flora's bright aurora is advancing from the
Orient
With fragrant* light adorning the pure shining streams.

At eve the centaur does retire to where the ocean gilds like fire
And the universe stands to admire her merchandise in store
Commanding Flora's fragrance the fertile fields to decorate
And to illuminate the royal Corsican again upon the French shore.

My name's Napoleon Bonaparte, the conqueror of nations
I have banished German legions and I drove kings from their thrones
I have conquered dukes and earls and splendid congregations
But now they have transported me to St Helena's shore.

Like Hannibal I crossed the Alps the burning sands and rocky cliffs
Over Russian hills through frost and snow I still the laurel wore
I'm in a desert island where rats the devil do affright
Yet I hope to shine in armour bright through Europe once more.

Some say the cause of my downfall was parting from my consort
To wed that German's daughter who wounded my heart full sore
I did steal from Malta's golden gates I did the works of God disgrace
But if he gives me time and place back to him I'll restore.

My golden eagles were pulled down by Wellington's allied army
My troops all in disorder [they] could no longer stand the field
I was sold that very afternoon, on the eighteenth day of June
Through lack of reinforcements I was forced for to yield.

But I am an allied oak, with fire and sword I made them smoke.
I have conquered Dutch and Danes and I've surprised the Grand Signor
I defeated Austrians and Russians, both Portuguese and Prussians
Like the great King Alexander or Caesar of yore.

For full three days I stood the plain my freedom's cause for to maintain
Many thousands there I did leave slain and covered in their gore
I never fled without revenge nor to the allied army cringed
But now my sword is sheathed and Paris is no more.