A Poem by Victor Hugo (1830)

In his poem “To the Column,” the great French poet Victor Hugo celebrates the memory of Napoleon.


TO THE COLUMN.

Two stanzas.
Alas! alas! keep thy lone tomb,
And keep thy barren sea-splashed rock,
Where thou didst dash three like a bomb,
To fall with fiery smoking shock!
Thy rugged St. Helena keep,
Where, of thy fortune's proudest steep,
The dazed eye sees the sad reverse;
Keep the still shade thy grave receives,
Beneath thy willow tree, whose leaves,
Are scattered through the universe.
There, free from outrage, dost thou sleep,
And, oft aroused, thou near dost feel
Those who from rage and sorrow weep—
The red-clad soldiers o'er thee kneel.
There thou, if e'er thou earth reseek,
Shalt see from some commanding peak,
Upon the world of waters pale,
Bound for the rocky sea-girt hearth,
As the true center of the earth,
Ships of each clime, and realm, and sail.
9 October 1830.

Source: Henry Carrington, Translations from the Poems of Victor Hugo (London: Walter Scott, 1885), pp. 85-86.