Imperial Revels

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

Cheer, courtiers! round the splendid spread,—
The board that groans with shame and plate;
Still fawning to the sham-crowned head
That hopes its brass will turn its 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 honour makes it sweet!

Ye cheaters in the trickster's fame,
Who dupe yourself and trickster-chief,
In blazing cafes 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 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.

O workmen, seen by me sublime,
When wrenched ye from the tyrant, peace!
Can you be dazed by tinselled crime,
And find no foe beneath the fleece?
Build places where fortunes feast,
And on your backs bear loads of beast,
Though once such masters you made flee!
But then, like me, you ate
Food of an endless fete,—
The bread of Liberty!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:13 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 1,315
Words 244
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 10, 10, 10, 10

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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