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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 |


 ("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 


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 |


 ("Moune, écureuil.") 

 Squirrel, mount yon oak so high, 
 To its twig that next the sky 
 Bends and trembles as a flower! 
 Strain, O stork, thy pinion well,— 
 From thy nest 'neath old church-bell, 
 Mount to yon tall citadel, 
 And its tallest donjon tower! 
 To your mountain, eagle old, 
 Mount, whose brow so white and cold, 
 Kisses the last ray of even! 
 And, O thou that lov'st to mark 
 Morn's first sunbeam pierce the dark, 
 Mount, O mount, thou joyous lark— 
 Joyous lark, O mount to heaven! 
 And now say, from topmost bough, 
 Towering shaft, and peak of snow, 
 And heaven's arch—O, can you see 
 One white plume that like a star, 
 Streams along the plain afar, 
 And a steed that from the war 
 Bears my lover back to me? 


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 |


 ("Phoebus, n'est-il sur la terre?") 

 Phoebus, is there not this side the grave, 
 Power to save 
 Those who're loving? Magic balm 
 That will restore to me my former calm? 
 Is there nothing tearful eye 
 Can e'er dry, or hush the sigh? 
 I pray Heaven day and night, 
 As I lay me down in fright, 
 To retake my life, or give 
 All again for which I'd live! 
 Phoebus, hasten from the shining sphere 
 To me here! 
 Hither hasten, bring me Death; then Love 
 May let our spirits rise, ever-linked, above! 


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 |


 ("Qu'avez-vous, mes frères?") 
 {XI., September, 18288.} 
 "Have you prayed tonight, Desdemona?" 


Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("Lorsqu'à l'antique Olympe immolant l'evangile.") 
 {Bk. II. v., 1823.} 
 {There was in Rome one antique usage as follows: On the eve of the 
 execution day, the sufferers were given a public banquet—at the prison 
 gate—known as the "Free Festival."—CHATEAUBRIAND'S "Martyrs."} 


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.

Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("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. 


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." 


Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("Courtisans! attablés 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 cafés 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 fête— 
 The bread of Liberty! 


Written by Victor Hugo |


 ("Vous voilà dans la froide Angleterre.") 
 {Bk. III. xlvii., Jersey, Sept. 19, 1854.} 

 You may doubt I find comfort in England 
 But, there, 'tis a refuge from dangers! 
 Where a Cromwell dictated to Milton, 
 Republicans ne'er can be strangers!