La Captive (The Turkish Captive)

Si je n'étais captive,
J'aimerais ce pays,
Et cette mer plaintive,
Et ces champs de maïs,
Et ces astres sans nombre,
Si le long du mur sombre
N'étincelait dans l'ombre
Le sabre des spahis.

Je ne suis point tartare
Pour qu'un eunuque noir
M'accorde ma guitare,
Me tienne mon miroir.
Bien loin de ces Sodomes,
Au pays dont nous sommes,
Avec les jeunes hommes
On peut parler le soir.

Pourtant j'aime une rive
jamais des hivers
Le souffle froid n'arrive
Par les vitraux ouverts,
L'été, la pluie est chaude,
L'insecte vert qui rôde
Luit, vivante émeraude,
Sous les brins d'herbe verts.

Smyrne est une princesse
Avec son beau chapel ;
L'heureux printemps sans cesse
Répond à son appel,
Et, comme un riant groupe
De fleurs dans une coupe,
Dans ses mers se découpe
Plus d'un frais archipel.

J'aime ces tours vermeilles,
Ces drapeaux triomphants,
Ces maisons d'or, pareilles
A des jouets d'enfants ;
J'aime, pour mes pensées
Plus mollement bercées,
Ces tentes balancées
Au dos des éléphants.

Dans ce palais de fées,
Mon coeur, plein de concerts,
Croit, aux voix étouffées
Qui viennent des déserts,
Entendre les génies
Mêler les harmonies
Des chansons infinies
Qu'ils chantent dans les airs !

J'aime de ces contrées
Les doux parfums brûlants,
Sur les vitres dorées
Les feuillages tremblants,
L'eau que la source épanche
Sous le palmier qui penche,
Et la cigogne blanche
Sur les minarets blancs.

J'aime en un lit de mousses
Dire un air espagnol,
Quand mes compagnes douces,
Du pied rasant le sol,
Légion vagabonde
Où le sourire abonde,
Font tournoyer leur ronde
Sous un rond parasol.

Mais surtout, quand la brise
Me touche en voltigeant,
La nuit j'aime être assise,
Etre assise en songeant,
L'oeil sur la mer profonde,
Tandis que, pâle et blonde,
La lune ouvre dans l'onde
Son éventail d'argent.

The Turkish Captive

Oh! were I not a captive,
I should love this fair countree;
Those fields with maize abounding,
This ever-plaintive sea:
I'd love those stars unnumbered,
If, passing in the shade,
Beneath our walls I saw not
The spahi's sparkling blade.

I am no Tartar maiden
That a blackamoor of price
Should tune my lute and hold to me
My glass of sherbet-ice.
Far from these haunts of vices,
In my dear countree, we
With sweethearts in the even
May chat and wander free.

But still I love this climate,
Where never wintry breeze
Invades, with chilly murmur,
These open lattices;
Where rain is warm in summer,
And the insect glossy green,
Most like a living emerald,
Shines 'mid the leafy screen.

With her chapelles fair Smyrna—
A gay princess is she!
Still, at her summons, round her
Unfading spring ye see.
And, as in beauteous vases,
Bright groups of flowers repose,
So, in her gulfs are lying
Her archipelagoes.

I love these tall red turrets;
These standards brave unrolled;
And, like an infant's playthings,
These houses decked with gold.
I love forsooth these reveries,
Though sandstorms make me pant,
Voluptuously swaying
Upon an elephant.

Here in this fairy palace,
Full of such melodies,
Methinks I hear deep murmurs
That in the deserts rise;
Soft mingling with the music
The Genii's voices pour,
Amid the air, unceasing,
Around us evermore.

I love the burning odors
This glowing region gives;
And, round each gilded lattice,
The trembling, wreathing leaves;
And, 'neath the bending palm-tree,
The gayly gushing spring;
And on the snow-white minaret,
The stork with snowier wing.

I love on mossy couch to sing
A Spanish roundelay,
And see my sweet companions
Around commingling gay,—
A roving band, light-hearted,
In frolicsome array,—
Who 'neath the screening parasols
Dance down the merry day.
But more than all enchanting
At night, it is to me,
To sit, where winds are sighing,
Lone, musing by the sea;
And, on its surface gazing,
To mark the moon so fair,
Her silver fan outspreading,
In trembling radiance there.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 13, 2023

3:23 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 3,725
Words 649
Stanzas 18
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 1, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 16

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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