Chanson de pirates (Pirates' Song)

Victor Marie Hugo 1802 (Besançon) – 1885 (Paris)



Nous emmenions en esclavage
Cent chrétiens, pêcheurs de corail ;
Nous recrutions pour le sérail
Dans tous les moûtiers du rivage.
En mer, les hardis écumeurs !
Nous allions de Fez à Catane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.

On signale un couvent à terre.
Nous jetons l'ancre près du bord.
A nos yeux s'offre tout d'abord
Une fille du monastère.
Prés des flots, sourde à leurs rumeurs,
Elle dormait sous un platane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.

- La belle fille, il faut vous taire,
Il faut nous suivre. Il fait bon vent.
Ce n'est que changer de couvent.
Le harem vaut le monastère.
Sa hautesse aime les primeurs,
Nous vous ferons mahométane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.

Elle veut fuir vers sa chapelle.
- Osez-vous bien, fils de Satan ?
- Nous osons, dit le capitan.
Elle pleure, supplie, appelle.
Malgré sa plainte et ses clameurs,
On l'emporta dans la tartane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.

Plus belle encor dans sa tristesse,
Ses yeux étaient deux talismans.
Elle valait mille tomans ;
On la vendit à sa hautesse.
Elle eut beau dire : Je me meurs !
De nonne elle devint sultane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.

Pirates' Song

We're bearing five-score Christian dogs
To serve the cruel drivers:
Some are fair beauties gently born,
And some rough coral-divers.
We hardy skimmers of the sea
Are lucky in each sally,
And, eighty strong, we send along
The dreaded Pirate Galley.

A nunnery was spied ashore,
We lowered away the cutter,
And, landing, seized the youngest nun
Ere she a cry could utter;
Beside the creek, deaf to our oars,
She slumbered in green alley,
As, eighty strong, we sent along
The dreaded Pirate Galley.

'Be silent, darling, you must come—
The wind is off shore blowing;
You only change your prison dull
For one that's splendid, glowing!
His Highness doats on milky cheeks,
So do not make us dally'—
We, eighty strong, who send along
The dreaded Pirate Galley.

She sought to flee back to her cell,
And called us each a devil!
We dare do aught becomes Old Scratch
But like a treatment civil,
So, spite of buffet, prayers, and calls --
Too late her friends to rally --
We, eighty strong, bore her along
Unto the Pirate Galley.

The fairer for her tears profuse,
As dews refresh the flower,
She is well worth three purses full,
And will adorn the bower --
For vain her vow to pine and die
Thus torn from her dear valley:
She reigns, and we still row along
The dreaded Pirate Galley.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:14 min read
137

Quick analysis:

Scheme abbacdDC effgcdDC effgcdDC bddbcdDC cccccdDC ccdccbhB xidicbhB xjbjcbhB bbxbcbhb cibifbhB
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,511
Words 441
Stanzas 10
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8

Victor Marie Hugo

Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. In France, Hugo's literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831. Though a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo's views changed as the decades passed; he became a passionate supporter of republicanism, and his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and artistic trends of his time. He was buried in the Panthéon. more…

All Victor Marie Hugo poems | Victor Marie Hugo Books

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