‘Incident of the French Camp’ was written by Robert Browning, an American poet. He belonged to the Victorian Age. He was known for his strength in dealing with dramatic monologues. This poem talks of the battle between the French and the soldiers of Ratisbon. Napoleon waits for news of the battle on a hill some distance away. An injured soldier comes to Napoleon and delivers the news that Ratisbon has been conquered.
The first stanza talks of the battle between the French and the Austrians. Ratisbon is surrounded by the French who storm its walls. Napoleon waits on the top of a nearby hill, waiting for news of the battle’s outcome. His frows are burrowed and he stands rigidly, fighting with the oppressive state of his mind. His arms are locked behind him and his legs placed wide.
Napoleon is worried that his army led by Lannes might not be able to take down Ratisbon. If that be the case, his plans for his future might be at stake. It is at this moment that a young soldier emerges out of the thick smoke of the batteries and the dust of the debris, speeding towards the French emperor. Napoleon does not know if the soldier brings good or bad news.
The soldier jumps down from his horse, smiling in the process. He is a young chap, his head hardly crossing the mane of the horse. He is heavily injured, but does not show that to Napoleon. The soldier keeps his mouth tightly shut so that blood does not seep out of it. He has come to deliver good news to the emperor.
The soldier tells Napoleon that the city has been taken. He adds that the flag of Napoleon has been erected in the marketplace by himself and is extremely proud of the fact. He urges his emperor to go and take command of the city. The eyes of Napoleon light up with fire and he thinks happily of his future plans.
The joy of victory is evident in the eyes of the emperor. But when he sees the wounds of the soldier, his eyes soften. This is similar to a mother eagle looking softly at its wounded eaglet. Napoleon exclaims in sorrow to the soldier that he is wounded. But the soldier is not worried about his injuries. He is in fact, happy that he has been wounded in the service of his country. He tells Napoleon with pride that he is not wounded, but killed. And then, the smile still playing on his lips, the patriotic soldier falls dead.