A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields/France, à l'Heure où tu te Prosternes (Les Châtiments, Victor Hugo)

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FRANCE, À L'HEURE OÙ TU TE PROSTERNES.


VICTOR HUGO.


(Les Châtiments.)


France! at the hour when thou bow'st down,
The tyrant's foot upon thy head!
A voice shall ring from caverns brown,
At which the chained joy-tears shall shed.

The exile standing on the shore,
And looking at the star and wave,
Shall speak as prophets spake of yore,
Whom God a fearless puissance gave.

And then, his menaces of might,
Lightnings from east to west unrolled,
Shall pass athwart the sullen night,
Like glaves that unseen fingers hold.

Tremble, O mountain, to thy breast,
Deep-veined with marble, towering high!
Shiver, O tree with lofty crest,
To hear the words when they whirl by.

They'll have the trumpet's lofty sound,
The shriek that makes the ravens cower,
The still small breath, on graveyard mound,
That stirs the humble grass and flower.

'Shame to the Tyrant!' they shall shout,
'Shame to the vile, vile homicide!'
And weakest souls shall round about
Gather like warriors brave and tried.

Upon the race transforming now
The words shall like a storm-cloud wheel,
And if the living hide their brow,
The dead shall wake with fire and steel.