19th Century

Madelaine (1825) | Victor Hugo

The following poem was written by Victor Hugo in 1825 and has been transcribed by Stephen Basdeo.


(“Ecoute-moi, Madeline.”)

(IX., September, 1825).

List to me, O Madelaine!

Now the snows have left the plain,

         Which they warmly cloaked.

Come into the forest groves,

Where the notes that Echo loves

         Are from horns evoked.

Come! where Springtide, Madelaine,

Brings a sultry breath from Spain,

       Giving buds their hue;

And, last night, to glad your eye,

Laid the floral marquetry,

       Red and gold and blue.

Would I were, O Madelaine,

As the lamb whose wool you train

       Through your tender hands.

Would I were the bird that whirls

Round, and comes to peck your curls,

       Happy in such bands.

Were I e’en, O Madelaine,

Hermit whom the herd disdain

       In his pious cell,

When your purest lips unfold

Sins which might to all be told,

       As to him you tell.

 Would I were, O Madelaine,

Moth that murmurs ‘gainst your pane,

       Peering at your rest,

As, so like its woolly wing,

 Ceasing scarce its fluttering,

       Heaves and sinks your breast.

If you seek it, Madelaine,

You may wish, and not in vain,

       For a serving host,

And your splendid hall of state

Shall be envied by the great,

       O’er the Jew-King’s boast.

If you name it, Madelaine,

Round your head no more you’ll train

       Simple marguerites,

No! the coronet of peers,

Whom the queen herself oft fears,

       And the monarch greets.

If you wish, O Madelaine!

Where you gaze you long shall reign—

       For I’m ruler here!

I’m the lord who asks your hand

If you do not bid me stand

Loving shepherd here!

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