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To My Daughter

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

My child! thou seest me content to lead
A lonely life. Do thou, in imitation,
Not happy, nor triumphant, learn the need
Of resignation.

All guileless be, commercing with the skies,
And as a sun to glorify the whole;
My child, within the azure of thine eyes,
Put thou thy soul.

For none are happy, none triumphant here;
To all their little span is incomplete.
Our life is but a shadow, and, my dear,
The shadows fleet.

Yes! of their weary lot all men complain.
To happiness, oh! strange and cruel fate,
All things are wanting, all! we seek in vain,
Or find too late.

What are the boons we crave, each for his part,
The hope of which doth still our hearts beguile?
Renown and wealth, a word, a woman’s heart,
A loving smile.

Mirth, to the unloved king, is wanting still;
A drop of water to Sahara’s plain;
Man’s heart is like a well, which, as we fill,
But dries again.

Behold those thinkers whom we idolize,
Those heroes whose command we gladly own,
Whose names illuminate our somber skies—
Where are they flown?

They rose like meteors through the wintry air,
And dazzled for a moment every eye;
Then sunk into the careless grave, and there
In darkness lie.

Kind Heaven, that knows our bitter griefs and fears,
Takes pity on our vain and empty days,
And bathes each morning with refreshing tears
Our dusty ways.

One only law there is, so just and mild,
Of which each honest heart must own the sway:
To pity, nothing hate, and, oh! my child,
To love alway.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:21 min read
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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…

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