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Best Famous Victor Hugo Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Victor Hugo poems. This is a select list of the best famous Victor Hugo poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Victor Hugo poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Victor Hugo poems.

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Written by Sandra Cisneros |


If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and murmuring like a mouth.
You were the shadows of a cloud cross- ing over a field of tulips.
You were the tears of a man who cried into a plaid handkerchief.
You were the sky without a hat.
Your heart puffed and flowered like sheets drying on a line.
And when you were a tree, you listened to the trees and the tree things trees told you.
You were the wind in the wheels of a red bicycle.
You were the spidery Mariatattooed on the hairless arm of a boy in dowtown Houston.
You were the rain rolling off the waxy leaves of a magnolia tree.
A lock of straw-colored hair wedged between the mottled pages of a Victor Hugo novel.
A crescent of soap.
A spider the color of a fingernail.
The black nets beneath the sea of olive trees.
A skein of blue wool.
A tea saucer wrapped in newspaper.
An empty cracker tin.
A bowl of blueber- ries in heavy cream.
White wine in a green-stemmed glass.
And when you opened your wings to wind, across the punched- tin sky above a prison courtyard, those condemned to death and those condemned to life watched how smooth and sweet a white cloud glides.

Written by Victor Hugo |

A Sunset

 I love the evenings, passionless and fair, I love the evens, 
Whether old manor-fronts their ray with golden fulgence leavens, 
In numerous leafage bosomed close; 
Whether the mist in reefs of fire extend its reaches sheer, 
Or a hundred sunbeams splinter in an azure atmosphere 
On cloudy archipelagos.
Oh, gaze ye on the firmament! a hundred clouds in motion, Up-piled in the immense sublime beneath the winds' commotion, Their unimagined shapes accord: Under their waves at intervals flame a pale levin through, As if some giant of the air amid the vapors drew A sudden elemental sword.
The sun at bay with splendid thrusts still keeps the sullen fold; And momently at distance sets, as a cupola of gold, The thatched roof of a cot a-glance; Or on the blurred horizon joins his battle with the haze; Or pools the blooming fields about with inter-isolate blaze, Great moveless meres of radiance.
Then mark you how there hangs athwart the firmament's swept track, Yonder a mighty crocodile with vast irradiant back, A triple row of pointed teeth? Under its burnished belly slips a ray of eventide, The flickerings of a hundred glowing clouds in tenebrous side With scales of golden mail ensheathe.
Then mounts a palace, then the air vibrates--the vision flees.
Confounded to its base, the fearful cloudy edifice Ruins immense in mounded wrack; Afar the fragments strew the sky, and each envermeiled cone Hangeth, peak downward, overhead, like mountains overthrown When the earthquake heaves its hugy back.
These vapors, with their leaden, golden, iron, bronzèd glows, Where the hurricane, the waterspout, thunder, and hell repose, Muttering hoarse dreams of destined harms,-- 'Tis God who hangs their multitude amid the skiey deep, As a warrior that suspendeth from the roof-tree of his keep His dreadful and resounding arms! All vanishes! The Sun, from topmost heaven precipitated, Like a globe of iron which is tossed back fiery red Into the furnace stirred to fume, Shocking the cloudy surges, plashed from its impetuous ire, Even to the zenith spattereth in a flecking scud of fire The vaporous and inflamèd spaume.
O contemplate the heavens! Whenas the vein-drawn day dies pale, In every season, every place, gaze through their every veil? With love that has not speech for need! Beneath their solemn beauty is a mystery infinite: If winter hue them like a pall, or if the summer night Fantasy them starre brede.

Written by Victor Hugo |


 You can see it already: chalks and ochers; 
Country crossed with a thousand furrow-lines;
Ground-level rooftops hidden by the shrubbery; 
Sporadic haystacks standing on the grass;
Smoky old rooftops tarnishing the landscape; 
A river (not Cayster or Ganges, though:
A feeble Norman salt-infested watercourse); 
On the right, to the north, bizarre terrain
All angular--you'd think a shovel did it.
So that's the foreground.
An old chapel adds Its antique spire, and gathers alongside it A few gnarled elms with grumpy silhouettes; Seemingly tired of all the frisky breezes, They carp at every gust that stirs them up.
At one side of my house a big wheelbarrow Is rusting; and before me lies the vast Horizon, all its notches filled with ocean blue; Cocks and hens spread their gildings, and converse Beneath my window; and the rooftop attics, Now and then, toss me songs in dialect.
In my lane dwells a patriarchal rope-maker; The old man makes his wheel run loud, and goes Retrograde, hemp wreathed tightly round the midriff.
I like these waters where the wild gale scuds; All day the country tempts me to go strolling; The little village urchins, book in hand, Envy me, at the schoolmaster's (my lodging), As a big schoolboy sneaking a day off.
The air is pure, the sky smiles; there's a constant Soft noise of children spelling things aloud.
The waters flow; a linnet flies; and I say: "Thank you! Thank you, Almighty God!"--So, then, I live: Peacefully, hour by hour, with little fuss, I shed My days, and think of you, my lady fair! I hear the children chattering; and I see, at times, Sailing across the high seas in its pride, Over the gables of the tranquil village, Some winged ship which is traveling far away, Flying across the ocean, hounded by all the winds.
Lately it slept in port beside the quay.
Nothing has kept it from the jealous sea-surge: No tears of relatives, nor fears of wives, Nor reefs dimly reflected in the waters, Nor importunity of sinister birds.

More great poems below...

Written by Victor Hugo |

The Poor Children

 Take heed of this small child of earth; 
He is great; he hath in him God most high.
Children before their fleshly birth Are lights alive in the blue sky.
In our light bitter world of wrong They come; God gives us them awhile.
His speech is in their stammering tongue, And his forgiveness in their smile.
Their sweet light rests upon our eyes.
Alas! their right to joy is plain.
If they are hungry Paradise Weeps, and, if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.
The want that saps their sinless flower Speaks judgment on sin's ministers.
Man holds an angel in his power.
Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs, When God seeks out these tender things Whom in the shadow where we sleep He sends us clothed about with wings, And finds them ragged babes that weep!

Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("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! 


Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("L'Avarice et l'Envie.") 

 Envy and Avarice, one summer day, 
 Sauntering abroad 
 In quest of the abode 
 Of some poor wretch or fool who lived that way— 
 You—or myself, perhaps—I cannot say— 
 Along the road, scarce heeding where it tended, 
 Their way in sullen, sulky silence wended; 
 For, though twin sisters, these two charming creatures, 
 Rivals in hideousness of form and features, 
 Wasted no love between them as they went. 
 Pale Avarice, 
 With gloating eyes, 
 And back and shoulders almost double bent, 
 Was hugging close that fatal box 
 For which she's ever on the watch 
 Some glance to catch 
 Suspiciously directed to its locks; 
 And Envy, too, no doubt with silent winking 
 At her green, greedy orbs, no single minute 
 Withdrawn from it, was hard a-thinking 
 Of all the shining dollars in it. 
 The only words that Avarice could utter, 
 Her constant doom, in a low, frightened mutter, 
 "There's not enough, enough, yet in my store!" 
 While Envy, as she scanned the glittering sight, 
 Groaned as she gnashed her yellow teeth with spite, 
 "She's more than me, more, still forever more!" 
 Thus, each in her own fashion, as they wandered, 
 Upon the coffer's precious contents pondered, 
 When suddenly, to their surprise, 
 The God Desire stood before their eyes. 
 Desire, that courteous deity who grants 
 All wishes, prayers, and wants; 
 Said he to the two sisters: "Beauteous ladies, 
 As I'm a gentleman, my task and trade is 
 To be the slave of your behest— 
 Choose therefore at your own sweet will and pleasure, 
 Honors or treasure! 
 Or in one word, whatever you'd like best. 
 But, let us understand each other—she 
 Who speaks the first, her prayer shall certainly 
 Receive—the other, the same boon redoubled!" 
 Imagine how our amiable pair, 
 At this proposal, all so frank and fair, 
 Were mutually troubled! 
 Misers and enviers, of our human race, 
 Say, what would you have done in such a case? 
 Each of the sisters murmured, sad and low 
 "What boots it, oh, Desire, to me to have 
 Crowns, treasures, all the goods that heart can crave, 
 Or power divine bestow, 
 Since still another must have always more?" 
 So each, lest she should speak before 
 The other, hesitating slow and long 
 Till the god lost all patience, held her tongue. 
 He was enraged, in such a way, 
 To be kept waiting there all day, 
 With two such beauties in the public road; 
 Scarce able to be civil even, 
 He wished them both—well, not in heaven. 
 Envy at last the silence broke, 
 And smiling, with malignant sneer, 
 Upon her sister dear, 
 Who stood in expectation by, 
 Ever implacable and cruel, spoke 
 "I would be blinded of one eye!" 
 American Keepsake 


Written by Victor Hugo |

The Genesis of the Butterfly

 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, the Spring time, when we think of all the lays That dreamy lovers send to dreamy mays, Of the fond hearts within a billet bound, Of all the soft silk paper that pens wound, The messages of love that mortals write Filled with intoxication of delight, Written in April and before the May time Shredded and flown, playthings for the wind's playtime, We dream that all white butterflies above, Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love, And leave their lady mistress in despair, To flit to flowers, as kinder and more fair, Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies

Written by Victor Hugo |

More Strong Than Time

 Since I have set my lips to your full cup, my sweet, 
Since I my pallid face between your hands have laid, 
Since I have known your soul, and all the bloom of it, 
And all the perfume rare, now buried in the shade; 

Since it was given to me to hear on happy while, 
The words wherein your heart spoke all its mysteries, 
Since I have seen you weep, and since I have seen you smile, 
Your lips upon my lips, and your eyes upon my eyes; 

Since I have known above my forehead glance and gleam, 
A ray, a single ray, of your star, veiled always, 
Since I have felt the fall, upon my lifetime's stream, 
Of one rose petal plucked from the roses of your days; 

I now am bold to say to the swift changing hours, 
Pass, pass upon your way, for I grow never old, 
Fleet to the dark abysm with all your fading flowers, 
One rose that none may pluck, within my heart I hold.
Your flying wings may smite, but they can never spill The cup fulfilled of love, from which my lips are wet; My heart has far more fire than you can frost to chill, My soul more love than you can make my soul forget

Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("Vous êtes singulier.") 
 {MARION DELORME, Act I., June, 1829, played 1831.} 
 MARION (smiling.) You're strange, and yet I love you thus. 
 DIDIER. You love me? 
 Beware, nor with light lips utter that word. 
 You love me!—know you what it is to love 
 With love that is the life-blood in one's veins, 
 The vital air we breathe, a love long-smothered, 
 Smouldering in silence, kindling, burning, blazing, 
 And purifying in its growth the soul. 
 A love that from the heart eats every passion 
 But its sole self; love without hope or limit, 
 Deep love that will outlast all happiness; 
 Speak, speak; is such the love you bear me? 
 MARION. Truly. 
 DIDIER. Ha! but you do not know how I love you! 
 The day that first I saw you, the dark world 
 Grew shining, for your eyes lighted my gloom. 
 Since then, all things have changed; to me you are 
 Some brightest, unknown creature from the skies. 
 This irksome life, 'gainst which my heart rebelled, 
 Seems almost fair and pleasant; for, alas! 
 Till I knew you wandering, alone, oppressed, 
 I wept and struggled, I had never loved. 


Written by Victor Hugo |

The Oceans Song

 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.
"Appear, 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 the 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 clamour,-- Exiles: the rocks!"

Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("Le parfum d'un lis.") 
 {Bk. V. xiii.} 

 The lily's perfume pure, fame's crown of light, 
 The latest murmur of departing day, 
 Fond friendship's plaint, that melts at piteous sight, 
 The mystic farewell of each hour at flight, 
 The kiss which beauty grants with coy delay,— 
 The sevenfold scarf that parting storms bestow 
 As trophy to the proud, triumphant sun; 
 The thrilling accent of a voice we know, 
 The love-enthralled maiden's secret vow, 
 An infant's dream, ere life's first sands be run,— 
 The chant of distant choirs, the morning's sigh, 
 Which erst inspired the fabled Memnon's frame,— 
 The melodies that, hummed, so trembling die,— 
 The sweetest gems that 'mid thought's treasures lie, 
 Have naught of sweetness that can match HER NAME! 
 Low be its utterance, like a prayer divine, 
 Yet in each warbled song be heard the sound; 
 Be it the light in darksome fanes to shine, 
 The sacred word which at some hidden shrine, 
 The selfsame voice forever makes resound! 
 O friends! ere yet, in living strains of flame, 
 My muse, bewildered in her circlings wide, 
 With names the vaunting lips of pride proclaim, 
 Shall dare to blend the one, the purer name, 
 Which love a treasure in my breast doth hide,— 
 Must the wild lay my faithful harp can sing, 
 Be like the hymns which mortals, kneeling, hear; 
 To solemn harmonies attuned the string, 
 As, music show'ring from his viewless wing, 
 On heavenly airs some angel hovered near. 


Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("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. 


Written by Victor Hugo |

The Grave and The Rose

 The Grave said to the Rose, 
"What of the dews of dawn, 
Love's flower, what end is theirs?" 
"And what of spirits flown, 
The souls whereon doth close 
The tomb's mouth unawares?" 
The Rose said to the Grave.
The Rose said, "In the shade From the dawn's tears is made A perfume faint and strange, Amber and honey sweet.
" "And all the spirits fleet Do suffer a sky-change, More strangely than the dew, To God's own angels new," The Grave said to the Rose.

Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("Les feuilles qui gisaient.") 

 The leaves that in the lonely walks were spread, 
 Starting from off the ground beneath the tread, 
 Coursed o'er the garden-plain; 
 Thus, sometimes, 'mid the soul's deep sorrowings, 
 Our soul a moment mounts on wounded wings, 
 Then, swiftly, falls again. 


Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("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."