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A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields/Lines (Victor Hugo)



Since every soul is weak, and set
On selfish aims, since men forget
The true, the pure, the great, the bright,
Instincts, at wrong, that chafe and swell,
Honour and glory, law and right,
And those who in the contest fell;

I love thee, Exile, with thy frown!
O Care,—be thou my thorny crown!
Welcome, thrice haughty Indigence!
All hail, thou door that rough winds beat!
And thou, O Sorrow, take thy seat
Grave statue at my hearth, from hence!

I love the anguish sent to try!
For in its shadows draw more nigh
Those that my heart delights to see:
Faith, Virtue, Dignity, in turn,
Freedom, the exile proud and stern,
And Loyalty, the refugee!

I love this isle of rocks and caves;
Jersey, my Patmos,—o'er thee waves
Free England's banner, grand and old!

I love the waters round that rise,
The ship that on its errand flies,
And all that here mine eyes behold.

Ha! There's the sea-gull. See it springs,
Pearls scattering from its tawny wings,
Then plunges in the gulfs once more:
'Tis lost in caverns of the main!
No! No! It upward soars again,
As souls from trials upward soar.

But most I love this seat—this rock,
From whence I hear the thunder-shock
Of waves eternally that moan,
Ever-renewed: methinks Remorse
Hath such a cry, and such a force—
Wail mothers thus for children gone!