Brave, brave, Charlotte Corday,
took upon herself to slay
that man of revolutionary
violence, Jean-Paul Marat.

On July thirteenth in ninety-three,
the convent girl from near the sea,
stabbed Marat to death in his bath,
before he could attempt to flee.
Brave, brave Charlotte Corday.

Appalled by all the murdering;
by France’s cultural perverting,
Charlotte saved hundreds of thousands
by acting without wavering.
Brave, brave, Charlotte Corday.

Aware her death would be sealed that day,
she killed the journalist who’d betray
Francais by claiming to be “the people’s friend.”
Where O where are you today?
Brave, brave, Charlotte Corday.

 

 

Jeremy Gadd has previously contributed poems to literary magazines and periodicals in Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium and India. He has MA Honours and PhD degrees from the University of New England. He lives and writes in an old Federation era house overlooking Botany Bay, the birthplace of modern Australia. Further information can be found at: https://jeremygaddpoet.com.


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6 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Marat was “a loathsome reptile,” as even a Girondist put it at the time, and he richly deserved death. Marat and his Montagnards were responsible for mass murder and terrorism throughout France. Even as he lay soaking in the bathtub on that fatal day, he was chuckling over how many persons he’d be sending to the guillotine.

    As they say in Texas, “He needed killin’.” Good work, Charlotte.

    Reply
  2. Margaret Coats

    Happy to see this poem in a form resembling a French refrain lyric. It is vaguely like the virelai, which can introduce rhyme sounds beyond the two prescribed for the opening stanza, while returning to those two sounds as the dominant ones in the poem. This gives a traditional, pre-Revolutionary musicality to Charlotte’s bravery here.

    Marat was certainly a monster of evil, and the painting above is a far cry from what Charlotte found as she entered his room. He was a corpulent mass of flesh bloated by disease, who sat in his bath because he would have broken and befouled the widest chair. Yet he welcomed Charlotte because she (so he thought) would provide him with additional names of people whom he could order executed, and he explicitly relished the idea in her presence, which confirmed her resolve to kill the monster.

    I thank Dr. Salemi for recommending Nesta Webster’s book, The French Revolution, available at Internet Archive. It gives the details from all sources (for and against the Revolution), that come from that very time period and from persons with living memory of the events.

    And let’s use the name referring to that Revolution today, used by many French speakers, as “la revolution dite francaise,” or “the revolution called French,” because it did not reflect the authentic values of the nation.

    Reply
  3. Peter Hartley

    Margaret – What phenomenal descriptive powers you have. Marat must have been a virtual corpse long before he was dead by the sound of it. And Charlotte! How on earth did she have the presence of mind to commission that portrait immediately before she died, a portrait in which we can see clearly today the nimbus forming over her left shoulder? A fascinating poem Jeremy, about a fascinating woman.

    Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    As a matter of fact, Marat was close to death from his skin disease at that time, and had largely retired from public life. Charlotte Corday did not know this fact, and after her stabbing of Marat, many persons privately expressed the opinion that she would have done better to kill Robespierre, a much more actively dangerous maniac. But in any case, Marat got what he had earned, and Corday sent him to Hell.

    Reply

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