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Poems by Victor Hugo

Part 4 out of 7

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At her feet die.
I'd gayly spend of toilsome years a dozen--
A felon styled--
Oh! this chill wind, etc.

"One summer day when long--so long? I'd missed her,
She came anew,
To play i' the fount alone but for her sister,
And bared to view
The finest, rosiest, most tempting ankle,
Like that of child--
Oh! this chill wind, etc.

"When I beheld her, I--a lowly shepherd--
Grew in my mind
Till I was Caesar--she that crowned leopard
He crouched behind,
No Roman stern, but in her silken leashes
A captive mild--
Oh! this chill wind, etc.

"Yet dance and sing, tho' night be thickly falling;--
In selfsame time
Poor Sabine heard in ecstasy the calling,
In winning rhyme,
Of Saldane's earl so noble, ay, and wealthy,
Name e'er reviled--
Oh! this chill wind, etc.

"(Let me upon this bench be shortly resting,
So weary, I!)
That noble bore her smiling, unresisting,
By yonder high
And ragged road that snakes towards the summit
Where crags are piled--
Oh! this chill wind, etc.

"I saw her pass beside my lofty station--
A glance--'twas all!
And yet I loathe my daily honest ration,
The air's turned gall!
My soul's in chase, my body chafes to wander--
My dagger's filed--
Oh! this chill wind may change, and o'er the mountain
May drive me wild!"



_("Comment, disaient-ils.")_

[XXIII., July 18, 1838.]

How shall we flee sorrow--flee sorrow? said he.
How, how! How shall we flee sorrow--flee sorrow? said he.
How--how--how? answered she.

How shall we see pleasure--see pleasure? said he.
How, how! How shall we see pleasure--see pleasure? said he.
Dream--dream--dream! answered she.

How shall we be happy--be happy? said he.
How, how! How shall we be happy--be happy? said he.
Love--love--love! whispered she.



_("Oh, quand je dors.")_


Oh! when I sleep, come near my resting-place,
As Laura came to bless her poet's heart,
And let thy breath in passing touch my face--
At once a space
My lips will part.

And on my brow where too long weighed supreme
A vision--haply spent now--black as night,
Let thy look as a star arise and beam--
At once my dream
Will seem of light.

Then press my lips, where plays a flame of bliss--
A pure and holy love-light--and forsake
The angel for the woman in a kiss--
At once, I wis,
My soul will wake!



_("O douleur! j'ai voulu savoir.")_

[XXXIV. i., October, 183-.]

I have wished in the grief of my heart to know
If the vase yet treasured that nectar so clear,
And to see what this beautiful valley could show
Of all that was once to my soul most dear.
In how short a span doth all Nature change,
How quickly she smoothes with her hand serene--
And how rarely she snaps, in her ceaseless range,
The links that bound our hearts to the scene.

Our beautiful bowers are all laid waste;
The fir is felled that our names once bore;
Our rows of roses, by urchins' haste,
Are destroyed where they leap the barrier o'er.
The fount is walled in where, at noonday pride,
She so gayly drank, from the wood descending;
In her fairy hand was transformed the tide,
And it turned to pearls through her fingers wending

The wild, rugged path is paved with spars,
Where erst in the sand her footsteps were traced,
When so small were the prints that the surface mars,
That they seemed _to smile_ ere by mine effaced.
The bank on the side of the road, day by day,
Where of old she awaited my loved approach,
Is now become the traveller's way
To avoid the track of the thundering coach.

Here the forest contracts, there the mead extends,
Of all that was ours, there is little left--
Like the ashes that wildly are whisked by winds,
Of all souvenirs is the place bereft.
Do we live no more--is our hour then gone?
Will it give back naught to our hungry cry?
The breeze answers my call with a mocking tone,
The house that was mine makes no reply.

True! others shall pass, as we have passed,
As we have come, so others shall meet,
And the dream that our mind had sketched in haste,
Shall others continue, but never complete.
For none upon earth can achieve his scheme,
The best as the worst are futile here:
We awake at the selfsame point cf the dream--
All is here begun, and finished elsewhere.

Yes! others shall come in the bloom of the heart,
To enjoy in this pure and happy retreat,
All that nature to timid love can impart
Of solemn repose and communion sweet.
In _our_ fields, in _our_ paths, shall strangers stray,
In _thy_ wood, my dearest, new lovers go lost,
And other fair forms in the stream shall play
Which of old thy delicate feet have crossed.

_Author of "Critical Essays."_


_("Toutes les passions s'eloignent avec l'age.")_

[XXXIV. ii., October, 183-.]

As life wanes on, the passions slow depart,
One with his grinning mask, one with his steel;
Like to a strolling troupe of Thespian art,
Whose pace decreases, winding past the hill.
But naught can Love's all charming power efface,
That light, our misty tracks suspended o'er,
In joy thou'rt ours, more dear thy tearful grace,
The young may curse thee, but the old adore.

But when the weight of years bow down the head,
And man feels all his energies decline,
His projects gone, himself tomb'd with the dead,
Where virtues lie, nor more illusions shine,
When all our lofty thoughts dispersed and o'er,
We count within our hearts so near congealed,
Each grief that's past, each dream, exhausted ore!
As counting dead upon the battle-field.

As one who walks by the lamp's flickering blaze,
Far from the hum of men, the joys of earth--
Our mind arrives at last by tortuous ways,
At that drear gulf where but despair has birth.
E'en there, amid the darkness of that night,
When all seems closing round in empty air,
Is seen through thickening gloom one trembling light!
'Tis Love's sweet memory that lingers there!

_Author of "Critical Essays."_


_("Il semblait grelotter.")_

[XXXVI., December, 1837.]

He seemed to shiver, for the wind was keen.
'Twas a poor statue underneath a mass
Of leafless branches, with a blackened back
And a green foot--an isolated Faun
In old deserted park, who, bending forward,
Half-merged himself in the entangled boughs,
Half in his marble settings. He was there,
Pensive, and bound to earth; and, as all things
Devoid of movement, he was there--forgotten.

Trees were around him, whipped by icy blasts--
Gigantic chestnuts, without leaf or bird,
And, like himself, grown old in that same place.
Through the dark network of their undergrowth,
Pallid his aspect; and the earth was brown.
Starless and moonless, a rough winter's night
Was letting down her lappets o'er the mist.
This--nothing more: old Faun, dull sky, dark wood.

Poor, helpless marble, how I've pitied it!
Less often man--the harder of the two.

So, then, without a word that might offend
His ear deformed--for well the marble hears
The voice of thought--I said to him: "You hail
From the gay amorous age. O Faun, what saw you
When you were happy? Were you of the Court?

"Speak to me, comely Faun, as you would speak
To tree, or zephyr, or untrodden grass.
Have you, O Greek, O mocker of old days,
Have you not sometimes with that oblique eye
Winked at the Farnese Hercules?--Alone,
Have you, O Faun, considerately turned
From side to side when counsel-seekers came,
And now advised as shepherd, now as satyr?--
Have you sometimes, upon this very bench,
Seen, at mid-day, Vincent de Paul instilling
Grace into Gondi?--Have you ever thrown
That searching glance on Louis with Fontange,
On Anne with Buckingham; and did they not
Start, with flushed cheeks, to hear your laugh ring forth
From corner of the wood?--Was your advice
As to the thyrsis or the ivy asked,
When, in grand ballet of fantastic form,
God Phoebus, or God Pan, and all his court,
Turned the fair head of the proud Montespan,
Calling her Amaryllis?--La Fontaine,
Flying the courtiers' ears of stone, came he,
Tears on his eyelids, to reveal to you
The sorrows of his nymphs of Vaux?--What said
Boileau to you--to you--O lettered Faun,
Who once with Virgil, in the Eclogue, held
That charming dialogue?--Say, have you seen
Young beauties sporting on the sward?--Have you
Been honored with a sight of Moliere
In dreamy mood?--Has he perchance, at eve,
When here the thinker homeward went, has he,
Who--seeing souls all naked--could not fear
Your nudity, in his inquiring mind,
Confronted you with Man?"

Under the thickly-tangled branches, thus
Did I speak to him; he no answer gave.

I shook my head, and moved myself away;
Then, from the copses, and from secret caves
Hid in the wood, methought a ghostly voice
Came forth and woke an echo in my souls
As in the hollow of an amphora.

"Imprudent poet," thus it seemed to say,
"What dost thou here? Leave the forsaken Fauns
In peace beneath their trees! Dost thou not know,
Poet, that ever it is impious deemed,
In desert spots where drowsy shades repose--
Though love itself might prompt thee--to shake down
The moss that hangs from ruined centuries,
And, with the vain noise of throe ill-timed words,
To mar the recollections of the dead?"

Then to the gardens all enwrapped in mist
I hurried, dreaming of the vanished days,
And still behind me--hieroglyph obscure
Of antique alphabet--the lonely Faun
Held to his laughter, through the falling night.

I went my way; but yet--in saddened spirit
Pondering on all that had my vision crossed,
Leaves of old summers, fair ones of old time--
Through all, at distance, would my fancy see,
In the woods, statues; shadows in the past!



[XXXVII., April 12, 1840.]

My love flowed e'er for things with wings.
When boy I sought for forest fowl,
And caged them in rude rushes' mesh,
And fed them with my breakfast roll;
So that, though fragile were the door,
They rarely fled, and even then
Would flutter back at faintest call!

Man-grown, I charm for men.


_("Vieux lierre, frais gazon.")_

[XXXVIII., 1840.]

Brown ivy old, green herbage new;
Soft seaweed stealing up the shingle;
An ancient chapel where a crew,
Ere sailing, in the prayer commingle.
A far-off forest's darkling frown,
Which makes the prudent start and tremble,
Whilst rotten nuts are rattling down,
And clouds in demon hordes assemble.

Land birds which twit the mews that scream
Round walls where lolls the languid lizard;
Brine-bubbling brooks where fishes stream
Past caves fit for an ocean wizard.
Alow, aloft, no lull--all life,
But far aside its whirls are keeping,
As wishfully to let its strife
Spare still the mother vainly weeping
O'er baby, lost not long, a-sleeping.



_("Toi qu'aimais Juvenal.")_

[Nox (PRELUDE) ix., Jersey, November, 1852.]

Thou who loved Juvenal, and filed
His style so sharp to scar imperial brows,
And lent the lustre lightening
The gloom in Dante's murky verse that flows--
Muse Indignation! haste, and help
My building up before this roseate realm,
And its so fruitless victories,
Whence transient shame Right's prophets overwhelm,
So many pillories, deserved!
That eyes to come will pry without avail,
Upon the wood impenetrant,
And spy no glimmer of its tarnished tale.


_("Courtisans! attables dans le splendide orgie.")_

[Bk. I. x., Jersey, December, 1852.]

Cheer, courtiers! round the banquet spread--
The board that groans with shame and plate,
Still fawning to the sham-crowned head
That hopes front brazen turneth fate!
Drink till the comer last is full,
And never hear in revels' lull,
Grim Vengeance forging arrows fleet,
Whilst I gnaw at the crust
Of Exile in the dust--
But _Honor_ makes it sweet!

Ye cheaters in the tricksters' fane,
Who dupe yourself and trickster-chief,
In blazing _cafes_ spend the gain,
But draw the blind, lest at _his_ thief
Some fresh-made beggar gives a glance
And interrupts with steel the dance!
But let him toilsomely tramp by,
As I myself afar
Follow no gilded car
In ways of _Honesty_.

Ye troopers who shot mothers down,
And marshals whose brave cannonade
Broke infant arms and split the stone
Where slumbered age and guileless maid--
Though blood is in the cup you fill,
Pretend it "rosy" wine, and still
Hail Cannon "King!" and Steel the "Queen!"
But I prefer to sup
From Philip Sidney's cup--
True soldier's draught serene.

Oh, workmen, seen by me sublime,
When from the tyrant wrenched ye peace,
Can you be dazed by tinselled crime,
And spy no wolf beneath the fleece?
Build palaces where Fortunes feast,
And bear your loads like well-trained beast,
Though once such masters you made flee!
But then, like me, you ate
Food of a blessed _fete_--
The bread of _Liberty_!



_("La femelle! elle est morte.")_

[Bk. I. xiii., Jersey, February, 1853.]

Mother birdie stiff and cold,
Puss has hushed the other's singing;
Winds go whistling o'er the wold,--
Empty nest in sport a-flinging.
Poor little birdies!

Faithless shepherd strayed afar,
Playful dog the gadflies catching;
Wolves bound boldly o'er the bar,
Not a friend the fold is watching--
Poor little lambkins!

Father into prison fell,
Mother begging through the parish;
Baby's cot they, too, will sell,--
Who will now feed, clothe and cherish?
Poor little children!


_("O Soleil!")_

[Bk. II. iv., Anniversary of the Coup d'Etat, 1852.]

O Sun! thou countenance divine!
Wild flowers of the glen,
Caves swoll'n with shadow, where sunshine
Has pierced not, far from men;
Ye sacred hills and antique rocks,
Ye oaks that worsted time,
Ye limpid lakes which snow-slide shocks
Hurl up in storms sublime;
And sky above, unruflfed blue,
Chaste rills that alway ran
From stainless source a course still true,
What think ye of this man?


_("Ah! tu finiras bien par hurler!")_

[Bk. III. ii., Jersey, August, 1852.]

How well I knew this stealthy wolf would howl,
When in the eagle talons ta'en in air!
Aglow, I snatched thee from thy prey--thou fowl--
I held thee, abject conqueror, just where
All see the stigma of a fitting name
As deeply red as deeply black thy shame!
And though thy matchless impudence may frame
Some mask of seeming courage--spite thy sneer,
And thou assurest sloth and skunk: "It does not smart!"
Thou feel'st it burning, in and in,--and fear
None will forget it till shall fall the deadly dart!



_("Un jour, sentant un royal appetit.")_

[Bk. III. iii., Jersey, September, 1852.]

One fasting day, itched by his appetite,
A monkey took a fallen tiger's hide,
And, where the wearer had been savage, tried
To overpass his model. Scratch and bite
Gave place, however, to mere gnash of teeth and screams,
But, as he prowled, he made his hearers fly
With crying often: "See the Terror of your dreams!"
Till, for too long, none ventured thither nigh.
Left undisturbed to snatch, and clog his brambled den,
With sleepers' bones and plumes of daunted doves,
And other spoil of beasts as timid as the men,
Who shrank when he mock-roared, from glens and groves--
He begged his fellows view the crannies crammed with pelf
Sordid and tawdry, stained and tinselled things,
As ample proof he was the Royal Tiger's self!
Year in, year out, thus still he purrs and sings
Till tramps a butcher by--he risks his head--
In darts the hand and crushes out the yell,
And plucks the hide--as from a nut the shell--
He holds him nude, and sneers: "An ape you dread!"



_("Sentiers ou l'herbe se balance.")_

[Bk. III. xi., July, 1853.]

O paths whereon wild grasses wave!
O valleys! hillsides! forests hoar!
Why are ye silent as the grave?
For One, who came, and comes no more!

Why is thy window closed of late?
And why thy garden in its sear?
O house! where doth thy master wait?
I only know he is not here.

Good dog! thou watchest; yet no hand
Will feed thee. In the house is none.
Whom weepest thou? child! My father. And
O wife! whom weepest thou? The Gone.

Where is he gone? Into the dark.--
O sad, and ever-plaining surge!
Whence art thou? From the convict-bark.
And why thy mournful voice? A dirge.



_("Laissons le glaive a Rome.")_

[Bk. III. xvi., October, 1852.]

Pray Rome put up her poniard!
And Sparta sheathe the sword;
Be none too prompt to punish,
And cast indignant word!
Bear back your spectral Brutus
From robber Bonaparte;
Time rarely will refute us
Who doom the hateful heart.

Ye shall be o'ercontented,
My banished mates from home,
But be no rashness vented
Ere time for joy shall come.
No crime can outspeed Justice,
Who, resting, seems delayed--
Full faith accord the angel
Who points the patient blade.

The traitor still may nestle
In balmy bed of state,
But mark the Warder, watching
His guardsman at his gate.
He wears the crown, a monarch--
Of knaves and stony hearts;
But though they're blessed by Senates,
None can escape the darts!

Though shored by spear and crozier,
All know the arrant cheat,
And shun the square of pavement
Uncertain at his feet!
Yea, spare the wretch, each brooding
And secret-leaguers' chief,
And make no pistol-target
Of stars upon the thief.

The knell of God strikes seldom
But in the aptest hour;
And when the life is sweetest,
The worm will feel His power!


_("Pendant que dans l'auberge.")_

[Bk. IV. xiii., Jersey, November, 1852.]

While in the jolly tavern, the bandits gayly drink,
Upon the haunted highway, sharp hoof-beats loudly clink?
Yea; past scant-buried victims, hard-spurring sturdy steed,
A mute and grisly rider is trampling grass and weed,
And by the black-sealed warrant which in his grasp shines clear,
I known it is _the Future_--God's Justicer is here!


_("Adieu, patrie.")_

[Bk. V. ix., Aug. 1, 1852.]

Farewell the strand,
The sails expand
Farewell the land
We love!
Farewell, old home where apples swing!
Farewell, gay song-birds on the wing!

Farewell, riff-raff
Of Customs' clerks who laugh
And shout:
"Farewell!" We'll quaff
One bout
To thee, young lass, with kisses sweet!
Farewell, my dear--the ship flies fleet!

The fog shuts out the last fond peep,
As 'neath the prow the cast drops weep.
Farewell, old home, young lass, the bird!
The whistling wind alone is heard:
Farewell! Farewell!


_("Il neigeait.")_

[Bk. V. xiii., Nov. 25-30, 1852.]

It snowed. A defeat was our conquest red!
For once the eagle was hanging its head.
Sad days! the Emperor turned slowly his back
On smoking Moscow, blent orange and black.
The winter burst, avalanche-like, to reign
Over the endless blanched sheet of the plain.
Nor chief nor banner in order could keep,
The wolves of warfare were 'wildered like sheep.
The wings from centre could hardly be known
Through snow o'er horses and carts o'erthrown,
Where froze the wounded. In the bivouacs forlorn
Strange sights and gruesome met the breaking morn:
Mute were the bugles, while the men bestrode
Steeds turned to marble, unheeding the goad.
The shells and bullets came down with the snow
As though the heavens hated these poor troops below.
Surprised at trembling, though it was with cold,
Who ne'er had trembled out of fear, the veterans bold
Marched stern; to grizzled moustache hoarfrost clung
'Neath banners that in leaden masses hung.

It snowed, went snowing still. And chill the breeze
Whistled upon the glassy endless seas,
Where naked feet on, on for ever went,
With naught to eat, and not a sheltering tent.
They were not living troops as seen in war,
But merely phantoms of a dream, afar
In darkness wandering, amid the vapor dim,--
A mystery; of shadows a procession grim,
Nearing a blackening sky, unto its rim.
Frightful, since boundless, solitude behold
Where only Nemesis wove, mute and cold,
A net all snowy with its soft meshes dense,
A shroud of magnitude for host immense;
Till every one felt as if left alone
In a wide wilderness where no light shone,
To die, with pity none, and none to see
That from this mournful realm none should get free.
Their foes the frozen North and Czar--That, worst.
Cannon were broken up in haste accurst
To burn the frames and make the pale fire high,
Where those lay down who never woke or woke to die.
Sad and commingled, groups that blindly fled
Were swallowed smoothly by the desert dread.

'Neath folds of blankness, monuments were raised
O'er regiments. And History, amazed,
Could not record the ruin of this retreat,
Unlike a downfall known before or the defeat
Of Hannibal--reversed and wrapped in gloom!
Of Attila, when nations met their doom!
Perished an army--fled French glory then,
Though there the Emperor! he stood and gazed
At the wild havoc, like a monarch dazed
In woodland hoar, who felt the shrieking saw--
He, living oak, beheld his branches fall, with awe.
Chiefs, soldiers, comrades died. But still warm love
Kept those that rose all dastard fear above,
As on his tent they saw his shadow pass--
Backwards and forwards, for they credited, alas!
His fortune's star! it could not, could not be
That he had not his work to do--a destiny?
To hurl him headlong from his high estate,
Would be high treason in his bondman, Fate.
But all the while he felt himself alone,
Stunned with disasters few have ever known.
Sudden, a fear came o'er his troubled soul,
What more was written on the Future's scroll?
Was this an expiation? It must be, yea!
He turned to God for one enlightening ray.
"Is this the vengeance, Lord of Hosts?" he sighed,
But the first murmur on his parched lips died.
"Is this the vengeance? Must my glory set?"
A pause: his name was called; of flame a jet
Sprang in the darkness;--a Voice answered; "No!
Not yet."

Outside still fell the smothering snow.
Was it a voice indeed? or but a dream?
It was the vulture's, but how like the _sea-bird's scream._



_("Nous nous promenions a Rozel-Tower.")_

[Bk. VI. iv., October, 1852.]

We walked amongst the ruins famed in story
Of Rozel-Tower,
And saw the boundless waters stretch in glory
And heave in power.

O ocean vast! we heard thy song with wonder,
Whilst waves marked time.
"Appeal, O Truth!" thou sang'st with tone of thunder,
"And shine sublime!

"The world's enslaved and hunted down by beagles,--
To despots sold,
Souls of deep thinkers, soar like mighty eagles,
The Right uphold.

"Be born; arise; o'er earth and wild waves bounding
Peoples and suns!
Let darkness vanish;--tocsins be resounding,
And flash, ye guns!

"And you,--who love no pomps of fog, or glamour,
Who fear no shocks,
Brave foam and lightning, hurricane and clamor,
Exiles--the rocks!"



_("Sonnez, clairons de la pensee!")_

[Bk. VII. i., March 19, 1853.]

Sound, sound for ever, Clarions of Thought!

When Joshua 'gainst the high-walled city fought,
He marched around it with his banner high,
His troops in serried order following nigh,
But not a sword was drawn, no shaft outsprang,
Only the trumpets the shrill onset rang.
At the first blast, smiled scornfully the king,
And at the second sneered, half wondering:
"Hop'st thou with noise my stronghold to break down?"
At the third round, the ark of old renown
Swept forward, still the trumpets sounding loud,
And then the troops with ensigns waving proud.
Stepped out upon the old walls children dark
With horns to mock the notes and hoot the ark.
At the fourth turn, braving the Israelites,
Women appeared upon the crenelated heights--
Those battlements embrowned with age and rust--
And hurled upon the Hebrews stones and dust,
And spun and sang when weary of the game.
At the fifth circuit came the blind and lame,
And with wild uproar clamorous and high
Railed at the clarion ringing to the sky.
At the sixth time, upon a tower's tall crest,
So high that there the eagle built his nest,
So hard that on it lightning lit in vain,
Appeared in merriment the king again:
"These Hebrew Jews musicians are, meseems!"
He scoffed, loud laughing, "but they live on dreams."
The princes laughed submissive to the king,
Laughed all the courtiers in their glittering ring,
And thence the laughter spread through all the town.

At the seventh blast--the city walls fell down.



_("Devant les trahisons.")_

[Bk. VII, xvi., Jersey, Dec. 2, 1852.]

Before foul treachery and heads hung down,
I'll fold my arms, indignant but serene.
Oh! faith in fallen things--be thou my crown,
My force, my joy, my prop on which I lean:

Yes, whilst _he's_ there, or struggle some or fall,
O France, dear France, for whom I weep in vain.
Tomb of my sires, nest of my loves--my all,
I ne'er shall see thee with these eyes again.

I shall not see thy sad, sad sounding shore,
France, save my duty, I shall all forget;
Amongst the true and tried, I'll tug my oar,
And rest proscribed to brand the fawning set.

O bitter exile, hard, without a term,
Thee I accept, nor seek nor care to know
Who have down-truckled 'mid the men deemed firm,
And who have fled that should have fought the foe.

If true a thousand stand, with them I stand;
A hundred? 'tis enough: we'll Sylla brave;
Ten? put my name down foremost in the band;
One?--well, alone--until I find my grave.



_("La-haut, qui sourit.")_

[Bk. VII. vii., September, 1853.]

Who smiles there? Is it
A stray spirit,
Or woman fair?
Sombre yet soft the brow!
Bow, nations, bow;
O soul in air,
Speak--what art thou?

In grief the fair face seems--
What means those sudden gleams?
Our antique pride from dreams
Starts up, and beams
Its conquering glance,--
To make our sad hearts dance,
And wake in woods hushed long
The wild bird's song.
Angel of Day!
Our Hope, Love, Stay,
Thy countenance
Lights land and sea
Thy name is France
Or Verity.

Fair angel in thy glass
When vile things move or pass,
Clouds in the skies amass;
Terrible, alas!
Thy stern commands are then:
"Form your battalions, men,
The flag display!"
And all obey.
Angel of might
Sent kings to smite,
The words in dark skies glance,
"Mene, Mene," hiss
Bolts that never miss!
Thy name is France,
Or Nemesis.

As halcyons in May,
O nations, in his ray
Float and bask for aye,
Nor know decay!
One arm upraised to heaven
Seals the past forgiven;
One holds a sword
To quell hell's horde,
Angel of God!
Thy wings stretch broad
As heaven's expanse!
To shield and free
Thy name is France,
Or Liberty!

[Footnote 1: Written to music by Beethoven.]


_("Temps futurs.")_

[Part "Lux," Jersey, Dec. 16-20, 1853.]

O vision of the coming time!
When man has 'scaped the trackless slime
And reached the desert spring;
When sands are crossed, the sward invites
The worn to rest 'mid rare delights
And gratefully to sing.

E'en now the eye that's levelled high,
Though dimly, can the hope espy
So solid soon, one day;
For every chain must then be broke,
And hatred none will dare evoke,
And June shall scatter May.

E'en now amid our misery
The germ of Union many see,
And through the hedge of thorn,
Like to a bee that dawn awakes,
On, Progress strides o'er shattered stakes,
With solemn, scathing scorn.

Behold the blackness shrink, and flee!
Behold the world rise up so free
Of coroneted things!
Whilst o'er the distant youthful States,
Like Amazonian bosom-plates,
Spread Freedom's shielding wings.

Ye, liberated lands, we hail!
Your sails are whole despite the gale!
Your masts are firm, and will not fail--
The triumph follows pain!
Hear forges roar! the hammer clanks--
It beats the time to nations' thanks--
At last, a _peaceful_ strain!

'Tis rust, not gore, that gnaws the guns,
And shattered shells are but the runs
Where warring insects cope;
And all the headsman's racks and blades
And pincers, tools of tyrants' aids,
Are buried with the rope.

Upon the sky-line glows i' the dark
The Sun that now is but a spark;
But soon will be unfurled--
The glorious banner of us all,
The flag that rises ne'er to fall,
Republic of the World!




[Bk. III. vi., October, 1846.]

A lion camped beside a spring, where came the Bird
Of Jove to drink:
When, haply, sought two kings, without their courtier herd,
The moistened brink,
Beneath the palm--_they_ always tempt pugnacious hands--
Both travel-sore;
But quickly, on the recognition, out flew brands
Straight to each core;
As dying breaths commingle, o'er them rose the call
Of Eagle shrill:
"Yon crowned couple, who supposed the world too small,
Now one grave fill!
Chiefs blinded by your rage! each bleached sapless bone
Becomes a pipe
Through which siroccos whistle, trodden 'mong the stone
By quail and snipe.
Folly's liege-men, what boots such murd'rous raid,
And mortal feud?
I, Eagle, dwell as friend with Leo--none afraid--
In solitude:
At the same pool we bathe and quaff in placid mood.
Kings, he and I;
For I to him leave prairie, desert sands and wood,
And he to me the sky."



_("L'enfant chantait.")_

[Bk. I. xxiii., Paris, January, 1835.]

The small child sang; the mother, outstretched on the low bed,
With anguish moaned,--fair Form pain should possess not long;
For, ever nigher, Death hovered around her head:
I hearkened there this moan, and heard even there that song.

The child was but five years, and, close to the lattice, aye
Made a sweet noise with games and with his laughter bright;
And the wan mother, aside this being the livelong day
Carolling joyously, coughed hoarsely all the night.

The mother went to sleep 'mong them that sleep alway;
And the blithe little lad began anew to sing...
Sorrow is like a fruit: God doth not therewith weigh
Earthward the branch strong yet but for the blossoming.



_("Une terre au flanc maigre.")_

[Bk. III. xi., October, 1840.]

A clod with rugged, meagre, rust-stained, weather-worried face,
Where care-filled creatures tug and delve to keep a worthless race;
And glean, begrudgedly, by all their unremitting toil,
Sour, scanty bread and fevered water from the ungrateful soil;
Made harder by their gloom than flints that gash their harried hands,
And harder in the things they call their hearts than wolfish bands,
Perpetuating faults, inventing crimes for paltry ends,
And yet, perversest beings! hating Death, their best of friends!
Pride in the powerful no more, no less than in the poor;
Hatred in both their bosoms; love in one, or, wondrous! two!
Fog in the valleys; on the mountains snowfields, ever new,
That only melt to send down waters for the liquid hell,
In which, their strongest sons and fairest daughters vilely fell!
No marvel, Justice, Modesty dwell far apart and high,
Where they can feebly hear, and, rarer, answer victims' cry.
At both extremes, unflinching frost, the centre scorching hot;
Land storms that strip the orchards nude, leave beaten grain to rot;
Oceans that rise with sudden force to wash the bloody land,
Where War, amid sob-drowning cheers, claps weapons in each hand.
And this to those who, luckily, abide afar--
This is, ha! ha! _a star_!


_("Comme le matin rit sur les roses.")_

[Bk. I. xii.]

The dawn is smiling on the dew that covers
The tearful roses--lo, the little lovers--
That kiss the buds and all the flutterings
In jasmine bloom, and privet, of white wings
That go and come, and fly, and peep, and hide
With muffled music, murmured far and wide!
Ah, Springtime, when we think of all the lays
That dreamy lovers send to dreamy Mays,
Of the proud hearts within a billet bound,
Of all the soft silk paper that men wound,
The messages of love that mortals write,
Filled with intoxication of delight,
Written in April, and before the Maytime
Shredded and flown, playthings for the winds' playtime.
We dream that all white butterflies above,
Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love,
And leave their lady mistress to despair,
To flirt with flowers, as tender and more fair,
Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies
Flutter, and float, and change to Butterflies.



_("Si vous n'avez rien a me dire.")_

[Bk. II. iv., May, 18--.]

Speak, if you love me, gentle maiden!
Or haunt no more my lone retreat.
If not for me thy heart be laden,
Why trouble mine with smiles so sweet?

Ah! tell me why so mute, fair maiden,
Whene'er as thus so oft we meet?
If not for me thy heart be, Aideen,
Why trouble mine with smiles so sweet?

Why, when my hand unconscious pressing,
Still keep untold the maiden dream?
In fancy thou art thus caressing
The while we wander by the stream.

If thou art pained when I am near thee,
Why in my path so often stray?
For in my heart I love yet fear thee,
And fain would fly, yet fondly stay.



_("Vous qui pleurez, venez a ce Dieu.")_

[Bk. III. iv., March, 1842.]

Ye weepers, the Mourner o'er mourners behold!
Ye wounded, come hither--the Healer enfold!
Ye gloomy ones, brighten 'neath smiles quelling care--
Or pass--for _this_ Comfort is found ev'rywhere.

[Footnote 1: Music by Gounod.]


_("Ceux-ci partent.")_

[Bk. III. v., February, 1843.]

We pass--these sleep
Beneath the shade where deep-leaved boughs
Bend o'er the furrows the Great Reaper ploughs,
And gentle summer winds in many sweep
Whirl in eddying waves
The dead leaves o'er the graves.

And the living sigh:
Forgotten ones, so soon your memories die.
Ye never more may list the wild bird's song,
Or mingle in the crowded city-throng.
Ye must ever dwell in gloom,
'Mid the silence of the tomb.

And the dead reply:
God giveth us His life. Ye die,
Your barren lives are tilled with tears,
For glory, ye are clad with fears.
Oh, living ones! oh, earthly shades!
We live; your beauty clouds and fades.


_("Oh! vous aurez trop dit.")_

[Bk. III. xiv., April, 1843.]

Ah, you said too often to your angel
There are other angels in the sky--
There, where nothing changes, nothing suffers,
Sweet it were to enter in on high.

To that dome on marvellous pilasters,
To that tent roofed o'er with colored bars,
That blue garden full of stars like lilies,
And of lilies beautiful as stars.

And you said it was a place most joyous,
All our poor imaginings above,
With the winged cherubim for playmates,
And the good God evermore to love.

Sweet it were to dwell there in all seasons,
Like a taper burning day and night,
Near to the child Jesus and the Virgin,
In that home so beautiful and bright.

But you should have told him, hapless mother,
Told your child so frail and gentle too,
That you were all his in life's beginning,
But that also he belonged to you.

For the mother watches o'er the infant,
He must rise up in her latter days,
She will need the man that was her baby
To stand by her when her strength decays.

Ah, you did not tell enough your darling
That God made us in this lower life,
Woman for the man, and man for woman,
In our pains, our pleasures and our strife.

So that one sad day, O loss, O sorrow!
The sweet creature left you all alone;
'Twas your own hand hung the cage door open,
Mother, and your pretty bird is flown.



_("Il vivait, il jouait.")_

[Bk. III. xv., May, 1843.]

He lived and ever played, the tender smiling thing.
What need, O Earth, to have plucked this flower from blossoming?
Hadst thou not then the birds with rainbow-colors bright,
The stars and the great woods, the wan wave, the blue sky?
What need to have rapt this child from her thou hadst placed him by--
Beneath those other flowers to have hid this flower from sight?

Because of this one child thou hast no more of might,
O star-girt Earth, his death yields thee not higher delight!
But, ah! the mother's heart with woe for ever wild,
This heart whose sovran bliss brought forth so bitter birth--
This world as vast as thou, even _thou_, O sorrowless Earth,
Is desolate and void because of this one child!



_("Un jour, le morne esprit.")_

[Bk. VI. vii., Jersey, September, 1855.]

One day, the sombre soul, the Prophet most sublime
At Patmos who aye dreamed,
And tremblingly perused, without the vast of Time,
Words that with hell-fire gleamed,

Said to his eagle: "Bird, spread wings for loftiest flight--
Needs must I see His Face!"
The eagle soared. At length, far beyond day and night,
Lo! the all-sacred Place!

And John beheld the Way whereof no angel knows
The name, nor there hath trod;
And, lo! the Place fulfilled with shadow that aye glows
Because of very God.



You say, "Where goest thou?" I cannot tell,
And still go on. If but the way be straight,
It cannot go amiss! before me lies
Dawn and the Day; the Night behind me; that
Suffices me; I break the bounds; I _see_,
And nothing more; _believe_, and nothing less.
My future is not one of my concerns.



_("J'habite l'ombre.")_


True; I dwell lone,
Upon sea-beaten cape,
Mere raft of stone;
Whence all escape
Save one who shrinks not from the gloom,
And will not take the coward's leap i' the tomb.

My bedroom rocks
With breezes; quakes in storms,
When dangling locks
Of seaweed mock the forms
Of straggling clouds that trail o'erhead
Like tresses from disrupted coffin-lead.

Upon the sky
Crape palls are often nailed
With stars. Mine eye
Has scared the gull that sailed
To blacker depths with shrillest scream,
Still fainter, till like voices in a dream.

My days become
More plaintive, wan, and pale,
While o'er the foam
I see, borne by the gale,
Infinity! in kindness sent--
To find me ever saying: "I'm content!"



_("Lorsque avec ses enfants Cain se fut enfui.")_

[Bk. II]

Then, with his children, clothed in skins of brutes,
Dishevelled, livid, rushing through the storm,
Cain fled before Jehovah. As night fell
The dark man reached a mount in a great plain,
And his tired wife and his sons, out of breath,
Said: "Let us lie down on the earth and sleep."
Cain, sleeping not, dreamed at the mountain foot.
Raising his head, in that funereal heaven
He saw an eye, a great eye, in the night
Open, and staring at him in the gloom.
"I am too near," he said, and tremblingly woke up
His sleeping sons again, and his tired wife,
And fled through space and darkness. Thirty days
He went, and thirty nights, nor looked behind;
Pale, silent, watchful, shaking at each sound;
No rest, no sleep, till he attained the strand
Where the sea washes that which since was Asshur.
"Here pause," he said, "for this place is secure;
Here may we rest, for this is the world's end."
And he sat down; when, lo! in the sad sky,
The selfsame Eye on the horizon's verge,
And the wretch shook as in an ague fit.
"Hide me!" he cried; and all his watchful sons,
Their finger on their lip, stared at their sire.
Cain said to Jabal (father of them that dwell
In tents): "Spread here the curtain of thy tent,"
And they spread wide the floating canvas roof,
And made it fast and fixed it down with lead.
"You see naught now," said Zillah then, fair child
The daughter of his eldest, sweet as day.
But Cain replied, "That Eye--I see it still."
And Jubal cried (the father of all those
That handle harp and organ): "I will build
A sanctuary;" and he made a wall of bronze,
And set his sire behind it. But Cain moaned,
"That Eye is glaring at me ever." Henoch cried:
"Then must we make a circle vast of towers,
So terrible that nothing dare draw near;
Build we a city with a citadel;
Build we a city high and close it fast."
Then Tubal Cain (instructor of all them
That work in brass and iron) built a tower--
Enormous, superhuman. While he wrought,
His fiery brothers from the plain around
Hunted the sons of Enoch and of Seth;
They plucked the eyes out of whoever passed,
And hurled at even arrows to the stars.
They set strong granite for the canvas wall,
And every block was clamped with iron chains.
It seemed a city made for hell. Its towers,
With their huge masses made night in the land.
The walls were thick as mountains. On the door
They graved: "Let not God enter here." This done,
And having finished to cement and build
In a stone tower, they set him in the midst.
To him, still dark and haggard, "Oh, my sire,
Is the Eye gone?" quoth Zillah tremblingly.
But Cain replied: "Nay, it is even there."
Then added: "I will live beneath the earth,
As a lone man within his sepulchre.
I will see nothing; will be seen of none."
They digged a trench, and Cain said: "'Tis enow,"
As he went down alone into the vault;
But when he sat, so ghost-like, in his chair,
And they had closed the dungeon o'er his head,
The Eye was in the tomb and fixed on Cain.

_Dublin University Magazine_


_("Booz s'etait couche.")_

[Bk. II. vi.]

At work within his barn since very early,
Fairly tired out with toiling all the day,
Upon the small bed where he always lay
Boaz was sleeping by his sacks of barley.

Barley and wheat-fields he possessed, and well,
Though rich, loved justice; wherefore all the flood
That turned his mill-wheels was unstained with mud
And in his smithy blazed no fire of hell.

His beard was silver, as in April all
A stream may be; he did not grudge a stook.
When the poor gleaner passed, with kindly look,
Quoth he, "Of purpose let some handfuls fall."

He walked his way of life straight on and plain,
With justice clothed, like linen white and clean,
And ever rustling towards the poor, I ween,
Like public fountains ran his sacks of grain.

Good master, faithful friend, in his estate
Frugal yet generous, beyond the youth
He won regard of woman, for in sooth
The young man may be fair--the old man's great.

Life's primal source, unchangeable and bright,
The old man entereth, the day eterne;
And in the young man's eye a flame may burn,
But in the old man's eye one seeth light.

As Jacob slept, or Judith, so full deep
Slept Boaz 'neath the leaves. Now it betided,
Heaven's gate being partly open, that there glided
A fair dream forth, and hovered o'er his sleep.

And in his dream to heaven, the blue and broad,
Right from his loins an oak tree grew amain.
His race ran up it far, like a long chain;
Below it sung a king, above it died a God.

Whereupon Boaz murmured in his heart,
"The number of my years is past fourscore:
How may this be? I have not any more,
Or son, or wife; yea, she who had her part.

"In this my couch, O Lord! is now in Thine;
And she, half living, I half dead within,
Our beings still commingle and are twin,
It cannot be that I should found a line!

"Youth hath triumphal mornings; its days bound
From night, as from a victory. But such
A trembling as the birch-tree's to the touch
Of winter is an eld, and evening closes round.

"I bow myself to death, as lone to meet
The water bow their fronts athirst." He said.
The cedar feeleth not the rose's head,
Nor he the woman's presence at his feet!

For while he slept, the Moabitess Ruth
Lay at his feet, expectant of his waking.
He knowing not what sweet guile she was making;
She knowing not what God would have in sooth.

Asphodel scents did Gilgal's breezes bring--
Through nuptial shadows, questionless, full fast
The angels sped, for momently there passed
A something blue which seemed to be a wing.

Silent was all in Jezreel and Ur--
The stars were glittering in the heaven's dusk meadows.
Far west among those flowers of the shadows.
The thin clear crescent lustrous over her,

Made Ruth raise question, looking through the bars
Of heaven, with eyes half-oped, what God, what comer
Unto the harvest of the eternal summer,
Had flung his golden hook down on the field of stars.



_("Sonnex, clarions!")_

[Bk. VI. vii.]

Flourish the trumpet! and rattle the drum!
The _Reiters_ are mounted! the Reiters will come!

When our bullets cease singing
And long swords cease ringing
On backplates of fearsomest foes in full flight,
We'll dig up their dollars
To string for girls' collars--
They'll jingle around them before it is night!
When flourish the trumpets, etc.

We're the Emperor's winners
Of right royal dinners,
Where cities are served up and flanked by estates,
While we wallow in claret,
Knowing not how to spare it,
Though beer is less likely to muddle our pates--
While flourish the trumpets, etc.

Gods of battle! red-handed!
Wise it was to have banded
Such arms as are these for embracing of gain!
Hearken to each war-vulture
Crying, "Down with all culture
Of land or religion!" _Hoch_! to our refrain
Of flourish the trumpets, etc.

Give us "bones of the devil"
To exchange in our revel
The ingot, the gem, and yellow doubloon;
Coronets are but playthings--
We reck not who say things
When the Reiters have ridden to death! none too soon!--
To flourish of trumpet and rattle of drum,
The Reiters will finish as firm as they come!



_("Un jour, Kanut mourut.")_

[Bk. X. i.]

King Canute died.[1] Encoffined he was laid.
Of Aarhuus came the Bishop prayers to say,
And sang a hymn upon his tomb, and held
That Canute was a saint--Canute the Great,
That from his memory breathed celestial perfume,
And that they saw him, they the priests, in glory,
Seated at God's right hand, a prophet crowned.


Evening came,
And hushed the organ in the holy place,
And the priests, issuing from the temple doors,
Left the dead king in peace. Then he arose,
Opened his gloomy eyes, and grasped his sword,
And went forth loftily. The massy walls
Yielded before the phantom, like a mist.

There is a sea where Aarhuus, Altona,
And Elsinore's vast domes and shadowy towers
Glass in deep waters. Over this he went
Dark, and still Darkness listened for his foot
Inaudible, itself being but a dream.
Straight to Mount Savo went he, gnawed by time,
And thus, "O mountain buffeted of storms,
Give me of thy huge mantle of deep snow
To frame a winding-sheet." The mountain knew him,
Nor dared refuse, and with his sword Canute
Cut from his flank white snow, enough to make
The garment he desired, and then he cried,
"Old mountain! death is dumb, but tell me thou
The way to God." More deep each dread ravine
And hideous hollow yawned, and sadly thus
Answered that hoar associate of the clouds:
"Spectre, I know not, I am always here."
Canute departed, and with head erect,
All white and ghastly in his robe of snow,
Went forth into great silence and great night
By Iceland and Norway. After him
Gloom swallowed up the universe. He stood
A sovran kingdomless, a lonely ghost
Confronted with Immensity. He saw
The awful Infinite, at whose portal pale
Lightning sinks dying; Darkness, skeleton
Whose joints are nights, and utter Formlessness
Moving confusedly in the horrible dark
Inscrutable and blind. No star was there,
Yet something like a haggard gleam; no sound
But the dull tide of Darkness, and her dumb
And fearful shudder. "'Tis the tomb," he said,
"God is beyond!" Three steps he took, then cried:
'Twas deathly as the grave, and not a voice
Responded, nor came any breath to sway
The snowy mantle, with unsullied white
Emboldening the spectral wanderer.
Sudden he marked how, like a gloomy star,
A spot grew broad upon his livid robe;
Slowly it widened, raying darkness forth;
And Canute proved it with his spectral hands
It was a drop of blood.



But he saw nothing; space was black--no sound.
"Forward," said Canute, raising his proud head.
There fell a second stain beside the first,
Then it grew larger, and the Cimbrian chief
Stared at the thick vague darkness, and saw naught.
Still as a bloodhound follows on his track,
Sad he went on. 'There fell a third red stain
On the white winding-sheet. He had never fled;
Howbeit Canute forward went no more,
But turned on that side where the sword arm hangs.
A drop of blood, as if athwart a dream,
Fell on the shroud, and reddened his right hand.
Then, as in reading one turns back a page,
A second time he changed his course, and turned
To the dim left. There fell a drop of blood.
Canute drew back, trembling to be alone,
And wished he had not left his burial couch.
But, when a blood-drop fell again, he stopped,
Stooped his pale head, and tried to make a prayer.
Then fell a drop, and the prayer died away
In savage terror. Darkly he moved on,
A hideous spectre hesitating, white,
And ever as he went, a drop of blood
Implacably from the darkness broke away
And stained that awful whiteness. He beheld
Shaking, as doth a poplar in the wind,
Those stains grow darker and more numerous:
Another, and another, and another.
They seem to light up that funereal gloom,
And mingling in the folds of that white sheet,
Made it a cloud of blood. He went, and went,
And still from that unfathomable vault
The red blood dropped upon him drop by drop,
Always, for ever--without noise, as though
From the black feet of some night-gibbeted corpse.
Alas! Who wept those formidable tears?
The Infinite!--Toward Heaven, of the good
Attainable, through the wild sea of night,
That hath not ebb nor flow, Canute went on,
And ever walking, came to a closed door,
That from beneath showed a mysterious light.
Then he looked down upon his winding-sheet,
For that was the great place, the sacred place,
That was a portion of the light of God,
And from behind that door Hosannas rang.
The winding-sheet was red, and Canute stopped.
This is why Canute from the light of day
Draws ever back, and hath not dared appear
Before the Judge whose face is as the sun.
This is why still remaineth the dark king
Out in the night, and never having power
To bring his robe back to its first pure state,
But feeling at each step a blood-drop fall,
Wanders eternally 'neath the vast black heaven.

_Dublin University Magazine_

[Footnote 1: King Canute slew his old father, Sweno, to obtain the crown.]


_("Le cheval galopait toujours.")_

[Bk. XV. ii. 10.]

The good steed flew o'er river and o'er plain,
Till far away,--no need of spur or rein.
The child, half rapture, half solicitude,
Looks back anon, in fear to be pursued;
Shakes lest some raging brother of his sire
Leap from those rocks that o'er the path aspire.

On the rough granite bridge, at evening's fall,
The white horse paused by Compostella's wall,
('Twas good St. James that reared those arches tall,)
Through the dim mist stood out each belfry dome,
And the boy hailed the paradise of home.

Close to the bridge, set on high stage, they meet
A Christ of stone, the Virgin at his feet.
A taper lighted that dear pardoning face,
More tender in the shade that wrapped the place,
And the child stayed his horse, and in the shine
Of the wax taper knelt down at the shrine.

"O, my good God! O, Mother Maiden sweet!"
He said, "I was the worm beneath men's feet;
My father's brethren held me in their thrall,
But Thou didst send the Paladin of Gaul,
O Lord! and show'dst what different spirits move
The good men and the evil; those who love
And those who love not. I had been as they,
But Thou, O God! hast saved both life and soul to-day.
I saw Thee in that noble knight; I saw
Pure light, true faith, and honor's sacred law,
My Father,--and I learnt that monarchs must
Compassionate the weak, and unto all be just.
O Lady Mother! O dear Jesus! thus
Bowed at the cross where Thou didst bleed for us,
I swear to hold the truth that now I learn,
Leal to the loyal, to the traitor stern,
And ever just and nobly mild to be,
Meet scholar of that Prince of Chivalry;
And here Thy shrine bear witness, Lord, for me."

The horse of Roland, hearing the boy tell
His vow, looked round and spoke: "O King, 'tis well!"
Then on the charger mounted the child-king,
And rode into the town, while all the bells 'gan ring.

_Dublin University Magazine_



_("Qu'est-ce que Sigismond et Ladislas ont dit.")_

[Bk. XV. iii. 1.]



What was it Sigismond and Ladislaeus said?

I know not if the rock, or tree o'erhead,
Had heard their speech;--but when the two spoke low,
Among the trees, a shudder seemed to go
Through all their branches, just as if that way
A beast had passed to trouble and dismay.
More dark the shadow of the rock was seen,
And then a morsel of the shade, between
The sombre trees, took shape as it would seem
Like spectre walking in the sunset's gleam.

It is not monster rising from its lair,
Nor phantom of the foliage and the air,
It is not morsel of the granite's shade
That walks in deepest hollows of the glade.
'Tis not a vampire nor a spectre pale
But living man in rugged coat of mail.
It is Alsatia's noble Chevalier,
Eviradnus the brave, that now is here.

The men who spoke he recognized the while
He rested in the thicket; words of guile
Most horrible were theirs as they passed on,
And to the ears of Eviradnus one--
One word had come which roused him. Well he knew
The land which lately he had journeyed through.

He down the valley went into the inn
Where he had left his horse and page, Gasclin.
The horse had wanted drink, and lost a shoe;
And now, "Be quick!" he said, "with what you do,
For business calls me, I must not delay."
He strides the saddle and he rides away.



Eviradnus was growing old apace,
The weight of years had left its hoary trace,
But still of knights the most renowned was he,
Model of bravery and purity.
His blood he spared not; ready day or night
To punish crime, his dauntless sword shone bright
In his unblemished hand; holy and white
And loyal all his noble life had been,
A Christian Samson coming on the scene.
With fist alone the gate he battered down
Of Sickingen in flames, and saved the town.
'Twas he, indignant at the honor paid
To crime, who with his heel an onslaught made
Upon Duke Lupus' shameful monument,
Tore down, the statue he to fragments rent;
Then column of the Strasburg monster bore
To bridge of Wasselonne, and threw it o'er
Into the waters deep. The people round
Blazon the noble deeds that so abound
From Altorf unto Chaux-de-Fonds, and say,
When he rests musing in a dreamy way,
"Behold, 'tis Charlemagne!" Tawny to see
And hairy, and seven feet high was he,
Like John of Bourbon. Roaming hill or wood
He looked a wolf was striving to do good.
Bound up in duty, he of naught complained,
The cry for help his aid at once obtained.
Only he mourned the baseness of mankind,
And--that the beds too short he still doth find.
When people suffer under cruel kings,
With pity moved, he to them succor brings.
'Twas he defended Alix from her foes
As sword of Urraca--he ever shows
His strength is for the feeble and oppressed;
Father of orphans he, and all distressed!
Kings of the Rhine in strongholds were by him
Boldly attacked, and tyrant barons grim.
He freed the towns--confronting in his lair
Hugo the Eagle; boldly did he dare
To break the collar of Saverne, the ring
Of Colmar, and the iron torture thing
Of Schlestadt, and the chain that Haguenau bore.
Such Eviradnus was a wrong before,
Good but most terrible. In the dread scale
Which princes weighted with their horrid tale
Of craft and violence, and blood and ill,
And fire and shocking deeds, his sword was still
God's counterpoise displayed. Ever alert
More evil from the wretched to avert,
Those hapless ones who 'neath Heaven's vault at night
Raise suppliant hands. His lance loved not the plight
Of mouldering in the rack, of no avail,
His battle-axe slipped from supporting nail
Quite easily; 'twas ill for action base
To come so near that he the thing could trace.
The steel-clad champion death drops all around
As glaciers water. Hero ever found
Eviradnus is kinsman of the race
Of Amadys of Gaul, and knights of Thrace,
He smiles at age. For he who never asked
For quarter from mankind--shall he be tasked
To beg of Time for mercy? Rather he
Would girdle up his loins, like Baldwin be.
Aged he is, but of a lineage rare;
The least intrepid of the birds that dare
Is not the eagle barbed. What matters age,
The years but fire him with a holy rage.
Though late from Palestine, he is not spent,--
With age he wrestles, firm in his intent.



If in the woodland traveller there had been
That eve, who lost himself, strange sight he'd seen.
Quite in the forest's heart a lighted space
Arose to view; in that deserted place
A lone, abandoned hall with light aglow
The long neglect of centuries did show.
The castle-towers of Corbus in decay
Were girt by weeds and growths that had their way.
Couch-grass and ivy, and wild eglantine
In subtle scaling warfare all combine.
Subject to such attacks three hundred years,
The donjon yields, and ruin now appears,
E'en as by leprosy the wild boars die,
In moat the crumbled battlements now lie;
Around the snake-like bramble twists its rings;
Freebooter sparrows come on daring wings
To perch upon the swivel-gun, nor heed
Its murmuring growl when pecking in their greed
The mulberries ripe. With insolence the thorn
Thrives on the desolation so forlorn.
But winter brings revenges; then the Keep
Wakes all vindictive from its seeming sleep,
Hurls down the heavy rain, night after night,
Thanking the season's all-resistless might;
And, when the gutters choke, its gargoyles four
From granite mouths in anger spit and pour
Upon the hated ivy hour by hour.

As to the sword rust is, so lichens are
To towering citadel with which they war.
Alas! for Corbus--dreary, desolate,
And yet its woes the winters mitigate.
It rears itself among convulsive throes
That shake its ruins when the tempest blows.
Winter, the savage warrior, pleases well,
With its storm clouds, the mighty citadel,--
Restoring it to life. The lightning flash
Strikes like a thief and flies; the winds that crash
Sound like a clarion, for the Tempest bluff
Is Battle's sister. And when wild and rough,
The north wind blows, the tower exultant cries
"Behold me!" When hail-hurling gales arise
Of blustering Equinox, to fan the strife,
It stands erect, with martial ardor rife,
A joyous soldier! When like yelping hound
Pursued by wolves, November comes to bound
In joy from rock to rock, like answering cheer
To howling January now so near--
"Come on!" the Donjon cries to blasts o'erhead--
It has seen Attila, and knows not dread.
Oh, dismal nights of contest in the rain
And mist, that furious would the battle gain,
'The tower braves all, though angry skies pour fast
The flowing torrents, river-like and vast.
From their eight pinnacles the gorgons bay,
And scattered monsters, in their stony way,
Are growling heard; the rampart lions gnaw
The misty air and slush with granite maw,
The sleet upon the griffins spits, and all
The Saurian monsters, answering to the squall,
Flap wings; while through the broken ceiling fall
Torrents of rain upon the forms beneath,
Dragons and snak'd Medusas gnashing teeth
In the dismantled rooms. Like armored knight
The granite Castle fights with all its might,
Resisting through the winter. All in vain,
The heaven's bluster, January's rain,
And those dread elemental powers we call
The Infinite--the whirlwinds that appall--
Thunder and waterspouts; and winds that shake
As 'twere a tree its ripened fruit to take.
The winds grow wearied, warring with the tower,
The noisy North is out of breath, nor power
Has any blast old Corbus to defeat,
It still has strength their onslaughts worst to meet.
Thus, spite of briers and thistles, the old tower
Remains triumphant through the darkest hour;
Superb as pontiff, in the forest shown,
Its rows of battlements make triple crown;
At eve, its silhouette is finely traced
Immense and black--showing the Keep is placed
On rocky throne, sublime and high; east, west,
And north and south, at corners four, there rest
Four mounts; Aptar, where flourishes the pine,
And Toxis, where the elms grow green and fine;
Crobius and Bleyda, giants in their might,
Against the stormy winds to stand and fight,
And these above its diadem uphold
Night's living canopy of clouds unrolled.

The herdsman fears, and thinks its shadow creeps
To follow him; and superstition keeps
Such hold that Corbus as a terror reigns;
Folks say the Fort a target still remains
For the Black Archer--and that it contains
The cave where the Great Sleeper still sleeps sound.
The country people all the castle round

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