Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
 
Blois
To M. Louis Blanc, in Blois
Victor Hugo (1802–1885)
 
Translated by Cora Kennedy Aitken

LEAVE the château behind you, black and strong,
With blood upon its front and all along
The tower eight-sided, where are Gorgon heads
  Agape. Pass on, leave tower and town,
Climb the steep hill luxuriantly green,        5
On whose fresh summit one tall tree alone
Leans, as on shining helmet-top doth lean
A stately plume; a chestnut-tree that spreads
Its arms so far you see it as you come
Dreaming towards it from the antique city’s gloom.        10
The plain below in a blue mist doth lie;
The town like a vast amphitheatre piled
Climbs to the church; the river many-isled
Moves with the sails whose noiseless white wings fly
On the soft wind, and far beyond, Chambord        15
  Shines with its hundred towers. Before
Your thoughts like birds light on the distant spires
    And your keen glance admires,
Close at your feet look down upon
An old stone mansion roofed with slate, that white        20
And square stands at the green hill’s base alone,
Holding itself aloof from stranger sight,
But mid the orchard’s bloom expanding bright
With joyous freedom. ’T is my father’s roof;
Hither he came after the wars to rest,        25
And many a time my verse has given proof
To you, dear friend, of how I loved him best,
As you, if you had known him, would have loved!
Think there in precious, thankful ecstasy,
Of all who love you,—mother, sister, proved        30
And kind; and there for love’s sake say of me:
    “For the dear friend I weep,
Who sees no more his father, fallen asleep;
Who has lost the sacred strength that did defend
    With sure protection all his days,        35
        The truest friend,
        Best loved always!
 
“No more august old age with glory crowned,
Nor beautiful white hair by sons caressed,
By little children loved. No trumpet sound        40
Of warlike stories! He doth calmly rest,
And the son mourns, of life’s great pride bereft!”
To the true hearts that loved him naught remains
Of the stern veteran saved from bloody plains,
When war was weary, but an empty tomb        45
    And this the orphaned home,
    That white below the hill
Stands emptied of his love, although
It wears a kindly air of welcome still,
As a vase keepeth fast and sweet        50
The odor of the perfumes gone from it.
 
 
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