Charity



'Lo! I am Charity,' she cries,
'Who waketh up before the day;
While yet asleep all nature lies,
God bids me rise and go my way.'

How fair her glorious features shine,
Whereon the hand of God hath set
An angel's attributes divine,
With all a woman's sweetness met.

Above the old man's couch of woe
She bows her forehead, pure and even.
There's nothing fairer here below,
There's nothing grander up in heaven,

Than when caressingly she stands
(The cold hearts wakening 'gain their beat),
And holds within her holy hands
The little children's naked feet.

To every den of want and toil
She goes, and leaves the poorest fed;
Leaves wine and bread, and genial oil,
And hopes that blossom in her tread,

And fire, too, beautiful bright fire,
That mocks the glowing dawn begun,
Where, having set the blind old sire,
He dreams he's sitting in the sun.

Then, over all the earth she runs,
And seeks, in the cold mists of life,
Those poor forsaken little ones
Who droop and weary in the strife.

Ah, most her heart is stirred for them,
Whose foreheads, wrapped in mists obscure,
Still wear a triple diadem--
The young, the innocent, the poor.

And they are better far than we,
And she bestows a worthier meed;
For, with the loaf of charity,
She gives the kiss that children need.

She gives, and while they wondering eat
The tear-steeped bread by love supplied,
She stretches round them in the street
Her arm that passers push aside.

If, with raised head and step alert,
She sees the rich man stalking by,
She touches his embroidered skirt,
And gently shows them where they lie.

She begs for them of careless crowd,
Of earnest brows and narrow hearts,
That when it hears her cry aloud,
Turns like the ebb-tide and departs.

O miserable he who sings
Some strain impure, whose numbers fall
Along the cruel wind that brings
Death to some child beneath his wall.

O strange and sad and fatal thing,
When, in the rich man's gorgeous hall,
The huge fire on the hearth doth fling
A light on some great festival,

To see the drunkard smile in state,
In purple wrapt, with myrtle crowned,
While Jesus lieth at the gate
With only rags to wrap him round.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:58 min read
98

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABAB CDCD EXEF GHGH IJIJ KFKF LMLM NXNX OBOX HPHP QRQR STST UVUV WVWX XYXY
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,073
Words 389
Stanzas 15
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

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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